This is the heartbreaking moment an orangutan smokes a cigarette in front of visitors at a zoo in Vietnam.
Video shows the male orangutan taking a couple of drags of the cigarette before stubbing it out like a hardened smoker at the Saigon Zoo in Ho Chi Minh City.
Staff at the zoo said the orangutan had picked up the cigarette after it had been discarded in the animal’s enclosure by a visitor.
The intelligent animal had then learned how to use it by watching humans smoke, staff said.
This is the heartbreaking moment an orangutan smokes a cigarette in front of visitors at a zoo in Vietnam
Video shows the male orangutan taking a couple of drags of the cigarette before stubbing it out like a hardened smoker at the Saigon Zoo in Ho Chi Minh City
In the footage, the orangutan is seen casually holding the cigarette between his fingers as he sat on the floor of his enclosure.
The orangutan then watches the crowd of visitors before taking two long drags on the cigarette – prompting laughter from the woman filming the footage.
The animal is then seen leaning forward and stubbing out the cigarette carefully on some stones.
He seems to be so experienced at smoking that he checks the butt to see if it is out properly before throwing it away.
The orangutan watches the crowd of visitors before taking two long drags on the cigarette – prompting laughter from the woman filming the footage. The animal is then seen leaning forward and stubbing out the cigarette carefully on some stones (right)
A spokesman for the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens said the orangutan had not been given a cigarette and had found it after it was thrown by a visitor.
The spokesman said: ‘People often throw things into the animals cages and the orangutan learns how to use these objects by seeing how people use them.’
The spokesman added that security guards do not have the time to keep a constant check on what was happening, and once the footage had gone viral they checked to make sure there were no more cigarettes in the cage and also checked other cages.
A local newspaper later reported many examples of people throwing rubbish in the animal cages despite notices warning them not to do so.
The orangutan – originally from Borneo – is critically endangered in the wild.
There have been a number of cases of animals smoking cigarettes in zoos – especially in China.
Last year, the zoo Hengshui Wildlife Park sparked outrage after staff forced a baby monkey to smoke a cigarette on camera as part of a supposed public health campaign.
In the video, a woman off-screen removes the cigarette from the monkey, named Banjin, and tells him off and says smoking is harmful.
The monkey rubs his eyes and falls on his back after the cigarette is taken from him.
Hengshui Wildlife Park uploaded a video of the monkey named Banjin smoking in Hengshui, Hebei province, yesterday
In the video a woman off-screen removes the cigarette and tells off the animal, saying smoking is harmful
The zoo keepers said they shot the video to raise public awareness against the vice. They added that the captive monkeys do not usually smoke.
Bosses at the zoo did not comment on the incident but Chinese social media users hit out at the wildlife park, saying the video was cruel.
One user wrote online that the monkey looked like it was hurt. They wrote: ‘He fell over on his back like he was dizzy and sick.’
The monkey rubs his eyes and falls on his back after the cigarette is taken from him
The US Food and Drug Administration said animals exposed to cigarette smoke have been found to be at higher risk of illnesses such as pneumonia, eye problems, heart disease, and cancer.
In 2018, a video emerged of a chimpanzee chain smoking in his enclosure at a zoo in China.
The male primate, named Jiaku, is said to have been a chain smoker for about 16 years.
The chimp has carried on his habit after being moved to a zoo in Xinjiang, north-east China, in 2002.
Chimpanzee Jiaku (pictured) is seen smoking in its enclosure at Tianshan Wildlife Zoo in China
The caretaker of the animal said Jiaku had been smoking since 2002. The caretaker also said that before being moved to a zoo in 2002, Jiaku performed at a circus
Tourists in the Tianshan Wildlife Zoo are seen trying to throw a cigarette to the chimpanzee
A clip on China’s video platform Pear shows Jiaku puffing on cigarettes as tourists watched excitedly by his enclosure in Tianshan Wildlife Zoo.
The video also shows tourists throwing cigarettes and lighters into Jiaku’s enclosure to encourage him to smoke. No keepers or staff were present to stop the tourists from doing so.
The zoo issued an apology letter after the public accused the management for not taking good care of the animal.
The zoo promised to seal all gaps in the glass windows and add warning signs to prevent visitors from giving Jiaku more cigarettes.
Jiaku’s caretaker, Yu Xinhua, told Xinjiang Morning Post last year that Jiaku had been smoking since 2002.