Shirley the orangutan helped to kick smoking habit

by William ASTON on September 12, 2011

An orangutan in Malaysia, named Shirley and famous for smoking the cigarettes often thrown by tourists and visitors into her habitat, is now being helped to kick her nicotine addiction.

Wildlife officials say that she has gone cold turkey after being moved to Malacca from her zoo in Johor state last week. It is expected that Shirley will be sent to a special wildlife centre on the island of Borneo once her rehabilitation has been completed.

According to officials, her withdrawal symptoms aren’t too concerning. The chief of Malacca zoo, Ahmad Azhar Mohammed, said that the orangutan has so far been displaying a healthy and regular appetite for food. with no obvious signs of illness or depression. Shirley’s addiction was first highlighted by a newspaper that was investigating the poor conditions experienced at zoos around the South East Asian country.

The orangutan - believed to be around 20 years of age - and four other mistreated animals were thankfully rescued from the zoo at the start of the month. Shirley was discovered being kept in what authorities have described as deplorable conditions. Nature Alert, a UK-based activist group, raised its concerns with officials in Malaysia over a year ago, which is when conservationists shot footage of the orangutan being thrown lit cigarettes.

Sean Whyte, the organisation’s CEO, said that the removal of Shirley was excellent news. The director-general of Johor zoo picked her habit up while located in Sarawak as a pet and not under his establishment’s supervision.

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