Indonesia zoo facing backlash over video of orangutan smoking a cigarette

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Screen capture of video showing an orangutan smoking a cigarette in Bandung Zoo in Indonesia. (Facebook/marison.guciano)

An zoo in Indonesia is facing backlash following a video that circulated online showing an orangutan smoking a cigarette.

The video, which was filmed Sunday at the Bandung Zoo, showed a visitor flicking his half-smoked cigarette into the enclosure housing the 22-year-old Bornean orangutan named Odon.

The primate then picked up the cigarette and started puffing, exhaling clouds of smoke as laughter is heard from the crowd of people.

The footage was recorded by activist Marison Guciano, who subsequently called out the visitor. However, he pointed out that it is up to the zoo management to prevent this kind of incident.

“Visitors do not know how to deal with animals, but the lack of supervision by zoo management is equally lacking, and is one of the issues which must be addressed,” he said. “Indonesia desperately needs animal welfare standards in its zoos.”

Bandung Zoo spokesperson Sulhan Syafi’I said that there are signs that warn visitors against feeding or giving cigarettes to the animals.

“We very much regret that such a thing happened,” he said. He further claimed that there was usually zoo staff guarding animal enclosures, but the guard may have been taking a break at the time of the incident.

The Bandung Zoo has had a bad record of animal protection, and it has made headlines a number of times due to starving and sick animals. In 2016, it was temporarily closed after the death of a Sumatran elephant, which was found to have bruises on its body.

Substandard conditions are also common in the zoo, with visitors who post reviews of the zoo at website TripAdvisor expressing anger and sadness over the dirty environment in the zoo and the poor living conditions of the animals.

A petition at change.org calling for the Bandung Zoo to be closed has garnered a lot of support, with nearly 1 million signatures.