Published On: Wed, Oct 6th, 2010

‘Charlie the Smoking Chimp’ dead at 52, lives a decade longer than most chimps

A chimpanzee which became addicted to smoking cigarettes has died from old age having managed to live at least 10 years longer than most chimps.

‘Charlie the Smoking Chimp’ was famous for his habit, picked up from visitors to his South African zoo, of smoking lit cigarettes.

But the zoo announced that the ape had finally died, aged 52. Most chimpanzees live to around 40.

Qondile Khedama, a spokesman for Mangaung Zoo, said Charlie was only an ‘occasional smoker’, but had none the less become famous around the world for the habit.

Ms Khedama explained that Charlie had recently been receiving special care, including a special diet of protein shakes and vitamin and mineral supplements.She explained that although the zoo discouraged the practice, the ape obtained cigarettes from visitors who would throw lit cigarettes to him through his bars.

Ms Khedama said she did not know whether the ape’s bad smoking habit contributed to his demise and that post mortem to determine the exact cause of death would take place soon.

The chimpanzee had learnt that he was not supposed to smoke, he would try and hide the habit from his zookeepers.

Charlie is thought to have picked up the smoking habit when he worked in an American circus. It has been speculated that he was taught the trick to entertain circus-goers.


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