A Chinese zoo is facing criticism after filming a baby monkey smoking a cigarette supposedly as part of a public health campaign.
Hengshui WIldlife Park, in the province of Hubei, allegedly forced the animal to toke on a cigarette to highlight the dangers of smoking.
The video, which has since been deleted from the zoo’s social media channels, sparked outrage from animal rights activists who accused the zoo of mistreating the animal.
In it, the primate, known as Banjin, can be seen in a video puffing on the cigarette, before a woman off-screen pulls it out of its mouth and tells him smoking is harmful.
The monkey reluctantly gives it up before rolling off the stool it’s sitting on, seemingly disorientated, and lies down.
Following backlash from social media users, the zoo insisted the video was filmed as part of a public health campaign to warn against the dangers of smoking, adding its captive monkeys do not smoke.
Local media has reported it claimed the video was just a “gimmick”, with a keeper reportedly saying: “It’s just a gimmick to advise everyone not to smoke by using a monkey.
‘It’s not really a smoking monkey.’
Hengshui WIldlife Park has staged a number of videos prior to the smoking monkey, including monkeys drinking milk tea and probiotic yoghurt drinks.
China has a history of questionable treatment towards animals, notably the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, fur farms and its testing of products and medication.
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