Zookeeper help chimp quit smoking
Updated: 2006-06-23 16:28 Zoo keepers in northwest
China are helping a chimpanzee to kick his chain-smoking habit.
Xiku, the only grown chimp in the zoo of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur
Autonomous Region, succumbed to addiction by observing and mimicking humans when
he performed in a circus several years ago.
"After Xiku came to stay in our zoo in September 2002, his nicotine addiction
became ever stronger. He was smoking nearly twenty cigarettes a day compared
with less than ten prior to coming here," said the keeper.
We were worried that smoking harmed Xiku's health, and began to control his
smoking soon after he entered the zoo, said the keeper.
But to encourage the chimp to quit smoking was not easy. At the beginning, he
became irascible when he wanted to smoke, jolting windows and doors, said the
Visitors to the zoo did not help the situation, tossing Xiku cigarettes for
their own amusement.
We sometimes gave him some sunflower seeds or a bottle of beer to help him
shake off the addiction and visitors are no longer allowed to throw him
cigarettes, the keeper said.
Now, Xiku has gone through the pain barrier and has become less addicted to
cigarettes, said the keeper. Xiku is now down to four a day.
"We are confident that Xiku will soon quit smoking completely with our help,"
the keeper said.