Tori The Smoking Orangutan Is Now A Mother
September 30, 2012

After Kicking The Habit, Smoking Orangutan Gives Birth To First Baby

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The orangutan who gained international fame for smoking is now a mother, having given birth to her first child, officials at the Indonesian zoo she calls home have announced.

Tori, who was born at the Taru Jurug zoo in Solo 14 years ago, picked up the habit from observing visitors puffing away on cigarettes, and had taken her first puffs nearly a decade ago after one smoker carelessly tossed a lit cigarette into her cage.

The behavior became a bit of a trick that Tori performed for zoo visitors until she was moved, along with her mate, to an isolated island in July as part of an attempt to force her to quit cold turkey. The move was made to keep her from gaining access to tobacco products, as well as to keep her from "peer pressure" caused by zoo visitors.

She has since kicked the habit, and according to AFP reports, she gave birth to her first child on Wednesday. Zoo officials are calling the birth a boost for the declining orangutan population.

"We're very happy. The baby is healthy and Tori is a good mother," Taru Jurug Zoo director Lilik Kristanto told the French news agency on Friday. "Orangutans are critically endangered, so this is good news for conservation. We have another young orangutan pair here, so I hope there will be more orangutan babies here in the future."

According to Jamie McGinness of the Daily Mail, the baby orangutan's name is Jokowi. The Jakarta Globe's Camelia Pasandaran said the name was chosen in honor of Solo mayor Joko Widodo.

As of Friday, zoo personnel had reportedly not been able to get close enough to the newborn in order to tell if it is male or female. Kristanto said that Tori did smoke during the pregnancy, but that her offspring does not appear to have suffered any ill effects from that behavior. The young orangutan was said to have been born naturally, without the assistance of any veterinarians or other medical personnel.

"Indonesian zoos have been criticized for the poor treatment of animals," McGinness said. "In March, a giraffe at an eastern Java zoo was found dead with a 20-kilogram beachball-size lump of plastic in its stomach from visitors' food wrappers thrown into its enclosure."

"Experts believe that between 50,000 and 60,000 of the two orangutan species are left in the wild, 80 percent of them in Indonesia and the rest in Malaysia," the AFP added. "Orangutans are faced with extinction from poaching and the rapid destruction of their forest habitat, driven largely by palm oil and paper plantations."