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Smoking chimp attraction is only one small way zoos suck

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Standard reports that a North Korean zoo is under fire for training Azalea, a 19-year-old Pyongyang chimp, to chain smoke. Azalea has developed a pack-a-day habit, and has learned to light up and discard butts like any human nicotine addict. Her trainer says she doesn’t inhale, but large exhales of smoke are being caught on camera by zoo attendees who somehow think a smoking monkey photo will improve their photo stream. What’s going to be next? Giving Azalea chewing tobacco? Such as products from snus bestellen to attract the chewers instead of the ones that smoke cigarettes…

Animal right’s groups are speaking out against the zoo, and focusing on how cruel it is to force tobacco on an animal. Our tendency to relate to animals more like “us” has made us disproportionately pissed off that our poison has become poison for an innocent animal, forgetting what else she is unfairly forced into. While the emotional response is understandable, Azalea’s confinement is just as unnecessary as this parlour trick.

PETA stepped in to condemn that any wild animals are being used for shows, but once again, they’ve unevenly given weight to this issue by only focusing on the sideshow aspects of zoos, and not the zoos themselves. We shouldn’t just want to end the acts the animals do there. PETA also conveniently say nothing about veganism. Naturally, many non-vegans will think feeding cancer-sticks to an animal is wrong, and will join in the riot. Mentioning that veganism means not supporting the use of any animals, for entertainment or otherwise, would gather much less agreement.

Of course this act is outlandish, but so is the chicken being served for dinner, even if the picture deemed worthy of sharing is a less easily sensationalized chicken salad. As long as people believe it’s more important to advocate to end this show then it is to advocate veganism, we’ll be no closer to helping Azalea kick the habit than we will be to ending all exploitation. Please, go vegan.

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