An anti-smoking campaign might have little to no effect on this chimpanzee in a North Korea zoo. To put it mildly, Azalea, a chimp who lives at the Central Zoo in Pyongyang, North Korea, is a smoker.
The 19-year-old chimp named “Dallae" (Korean for Azalea) apparently smokes a pack of cigarettes a day at the newly renovated zoo, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Officials at the zoo assert that Azalea does not smoke, though. The trained chimp is prompted to “light up” when she is thrown a lighter and a cigarette. Azalea can also light an unlit cigarette using another lit cigarette, according to the AP.
Among ordinary zoo animal attractions, the Central Zoo is becoming known for its performing animals: Trained dogs can operate an abacus and monkeys can dunk basketballs. Another one of the zoo’s popular attractions is a dog pavilion, which includes an extensive variety of canine breeds.
The Central Zoo in Pyongyang was built in the 1950s at the request of then-North Korean leader Kim II Sung, and the zoo was erected on the outskirts of the city. When it first opened, the zoo reportedly only had 50 badgers.
The Central Zoo, which completed its renovation and re-opened in July, sees thousands of visitors each day. The renovation project began in 2014 as part of Kim Jong Un’s bid to establish North Korea’s capital city as a modern and cultured destination. Part of this plan has included creating more leisure centers in the city.
The AP also reported Sunday that a flying club out of Pyongyang began offering short, sightseeing flights for visitors. The flight tours, operated by the Mirim flying club, began offering flight tours in July.
When it comes to animals that smoke, though, it would appear that Azalea is not the only zoo animal with a vice. Another chimpanzee at a Chinese zoo in Tianshan zoo in Xinjiang, China was filmed smoking after a visitor passed the chimp a cigarette, the Mirror reported August of 2015. Twenty year old Jia Ku had reportedly picked up the smoking habit from his time spent working in circuses before arriving at the zoo in 2012.