World's worst zoo: Orang utan allowed to chain-smoke in Malaysia

Ruth Doherty

A zoo in Malaysia is being named the worst zoo in the world after horrific images of an orang utan chain-smoking have emerged.

Shirley, a 25-year-old orang utan at Johor Bahru Zoo, reportedly competes with her cage-mate Abi for cigarette butts thrown in by heartless tourists to satisfy her smoking habit.

She even begs for cigarettes through the bars.

Her plight is one of the worst examples of animals caged in cruelty in Malaysia. Others include crocodiles kept in waterless enclosures, giraffes with open sores on their legs, and lions and tigers trapped in cages barely big enough to house them.

The Malaysian government's wildlife ministry Perhilitan vowed to clamp down on the appalling conditions in the country's zoos, rated among the worst in the world, but these have been virtually ignored.

Last October a new law was passed that gave the zoos six months to clean up their act but when the June deadline passes there will have been shamefully little progress made.

Ten zoos in the country were investigated last week and animals were still found living in tiny, dirty enclosures, sometimes without water for drinking or swimming.

Some animals were being made to perform, despite the practise being banned, but worst of all was the example of one zoo that had been obtaining its animals on the black market.

Non-profit British charity Nature Alert has worked hard to prick the conscience of the Malaysian government and says the time has come to focus international attention on a problem for which a wealthy country has no excuse.

For more information, Orang utan Appeal UK is also working towards helping orang utans across the world.

Related articles
Longleat opens its doors to abused elephant

Rare baby monkey born at London Zoo

Kate and William adopt baby penguin from Chester Zoo