Chinese chimp quits smoking after 16 years
Last Updated: 2005-10-03 11:13:52 -0400 (Reuters Health)
BEIJING (Reuters) - A chimpanzee in a northwest China zoo has quit
smoking after 16 years with the help of her keepers, official media
The staff, worried about her declining health, weaned 27-year-old "Ai
Ai" off tobacco by distracting her with entertainment and a tastier
diet, Xinhua news agency said.
"The zookeepers tried every way to divert the chimp's attention from
cigarettes: a walk after breakfast, a music session after lunch and
gym after dinner," Xinhua said.
She also got fried dishes and dumplings, as well as the usual diet of
milk, bananas and rice, said one zookeeper.
"I also put earphones on her so that she could enjoy some pop music
from my Walkman," he said.
"In the first few days, she squealed for cigarettes every now and
then, but as her life became more colourful she gradually forgot about
Xinhua attributed Ai Ai's habit to solitude and grief.
Living in a safari park in Shaanxi province, she had taken up smoking
in 1989 shortly after her mate died, it said. Then she had become a
chain smoker after her second mate died in 1997 and her daughter was
moved to another zoo.
Xinhua did not say who had first given cigarettes to her or kept
The Xian Evening News said the zoo was trying to find another mate for her.
A few thoughts:
1) Ai Ai lost two mates and her daughter. OF COURSE she took up smoking.
2) Although I am happy for Ai Ai's success, I really don't think replacing a tobacco addiction with a dumpling addiction is necessarily the answer. Maybe there should be a little less music and a little more counseling.
3) I appreciate the fact that Ai Ai was a casual smoker for eight years before the death of her second mate, when the smoking became a serious problem.