A zoo in North Korea is facing some serious backlash from other countries after it taught a chimp, Azalea, how to smoke cigarettes.
Azalea is currently going viral but probably not for the reasons the zoo was hoping. The newly opened Korea Central Zoo advertised her as a smoking chimp in the hopes to draw positive attention to their new attraction. While the people who attend zoo found this hilarious, roaring with laughter when Azalea lit her own cigarette, it's been wildly criticized from other parts of the world.
"When I first heard about Azalea, the smoking chimpanzee, I was sickened," said Marc Bekoff, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado. "There is nothing natural about this and it sends all the wrong messages about just who other animals are. Zoo' animals all over the world are seriously misrepresented and mistreated, so this is just another example of what so many zoos do."
Azalea smokes a pack a day, and she even knows how to light her own cigarettes using a lighter. This shocking stunt is bringing the argument against zoos back to the table. Should animals be forced to stay in confinement for our own pleasure?
"Azalea is just one more example of a sentient individual being used for our entertainment and pleasure, to their detriment," said Bekoff. "Is her smoking any more injurious to her health and dignity than other forms of mistreatment? I'm not so sure it is. But it provides a good rallying point for people who want to improve the lives of captive animals."
What do you think? Should this zoo be shut down because of its mistreatment of Azalea? Or is this all part of the appeal? Let us know!