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The star of the Pyongyang zoo is a chain-smoking chimp

Azalea, a 19-year-old female chimpanzee smokes a cigarette at the Central Zoo in Pyongyang on Oct. 19.
AP Photo/Wong Maye-E
Ape addict.
  • Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Azalea, a 19-year-old chimpanzee and resident at Pyongyang’s Central Zoo in North Korea, has become a star attraction for her chronic cigarette smoking. The Associated Press details how Azalea has been trained to light her own cigarettes and smoke at her trainer’s encouragement. She can also perform several other behaviors such as dancing and touching her nose.

AP Photo/Wong Maye-E
Azalea smokes a cigarette. The zoo insists that she doesn’t inhale.
AP Photo/Wong Maye-E
Azalea looks at her keeper.

Drawing thousands of visitors a day, Azalea’s pack-a-day habit is in line with some of the zoo’s other less-than-ethical exhibitions, which include basketball-playing monkeys, doves that are part of a figure skating routine, and a dog who is trained to manipulate an abacus.

Smoking remains extremely popular in North Korea, where nearly 45% of adult men partake in the habit. An estimated 30% of men will die from tobacco-related illnesses, according to the World Lung Foundation.

AP Photo/Dita Alangkara
A North Korean and her son pose for a photo on the back of a camel.
AP Photo/Dita Alangkara
Dogs look out from inside a pen at the Pyongyang Central Zoo. Dozens of varieties of dogs, including schnauzers, German shepherds, Shih Tzus and Saint Bernards, are on display in the zoo’s ‘dog pavilion.’

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