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article imageFamous South African smoking chimpanzee dies of old age

By Stephanie Dearing     Oct 6, 2010 in World
Bloemfontein - Charlie the Chimpanzee, as he was known, picked up his smoking habit from watching the people who had come to watch him at a small zoo in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Zoo officials discovered that Charlie watchers encouraged Charlie in picking up the habit by throwing him lit cigarettes, which Charlie then smoked. Charlie was weaned off of tobacco a few years ago, and his death is thought to have been due to old age. Charlie was 52 years old said Reuters.
Once news spread about Charlie's smoking habit, he became the most popular animal at the zoo.
Charlie, who passed away on Tuesday, is to undergo an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
The General Manager of Manguang's Communication Services, Qondile Khedam announced Charlie's death Wednesday, said the BBC.
The Manguang Zoo was founded in 1906 and is a world class zoo.
Chimpanzees are related to humans. They can live up to 45 years of age in the wild, according to the National Geographic. When kept in captivity, Chimpanzees can live for up to 60 years.
Earlier this year, Reuters reported a story about a former Russian circus performing Chimpanzee, Zhora. Zhora had been sent to live in a zoo in Rostov because he had become aggressive. During his stay at the zoo, Zhora picked up cigarette smoking, along with drinking alcohol, and was subsequently sent to a rehab center to dry out. The Huffington Post added that Zhora had been fed cigarettes and alcohol by his human visitors.
While Charlie's death has become a viral news item in the Western Hemisphere, in Africa, the death of the chimpanzee cannot compete with some of the other big news headlines. In fact, readers will be hard pressed to find news of Charlie's death in Africa. All Africa reports the top news headlines for Wednesday include: Hundreds Dead, Thousands At Risk From Lead Pollution, UN Team Reports; UN Seizes Leader of Rebel Group Presumed Responsible for Mass Rape; and Hundreds Working as Slaves in Fishing Vessels.
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