Cigarettes brought Charlie the Smoking Chimp fame
and fortune, but did they also kill him? That's the question on ape
enthusiasts' minds following news of Charlie's death
Tuesday at the age of 52.
Admittedly, a chronic smoking habit
does not seem like the healthiest life choice for a captive monkey, but
officials at South Africa's Mangaung Zoo, where Charlie resided with his
wife, Judy, say old
age, not cigarettes, killed Charlie. (They may have a point: the average
life expectancy for a chimp in captivity is 40 years.) Nonetheless, zoo
spokesman Qondile Khedama confirmed to The Telegraph that a post mortem
would be needed to officially determine the cause of death.
downplaying the cigarette angle was Daryl Barnes, the zoo's senior
nature conservator, who told The
Sun "no signs of addiction, or withdrawal, [had] ever been noticed"
in the chimp. Moreover, Barnes said that in his 15 years at the zoo, he
only saw Charlie smoke five times.
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