Charley puffs away at the Bloemfontein Zoo in South Africa. (CBS)
"Charley's picked up the habit from watching people. He learns from mimicry." Daryl Barnes, Bloemfontein Zoo
(CBS) It might be an obvious saying, but this is the perfect example of "monkey see, monkey do." When a chimpanzee started behaving in a uniquely human way, zookeepers knew they had a problem on their hands.
Charley, the smoking chimp picked smoking cigarettes after he picked up a pack of cigarettes thrown to him by the allegedly smarter humans who come to see him at a South African zoo.
"Charley's picked up the habit from watching people. He learns from mimicry," Daryl Barnes of the Bloemfontein Zoo told CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger.
Adults should know better than to encourage smoking — children certainly do.
"Do you think it's a good thing that people give the monkey cigarettes?" Schlesinger asked one little girl.
"No," she replied.
"What will happen?
"They will get sick."
Everybody gets a laugh watching Charley smoke, like a hairy scary star of an old tough guy film. But the people who care for him and care about him are not amused. Zookeepers have asked people to stop offering Charley cigarettes.
"He's getting older," said zookeeper Barnes. "And as he gets older, if he smokes, it'll damage his lungs."
But Charley is addicted to cigarettes.
And, according to the zoo, "he acts like a naughty schoolboy" and hides his cigarettes when his handlers happen by. So now the zoo has to help a monkey go cold turkey — resist the temptations of humans — and get him to understand that "monkey see, monkey do" isn't as good a philosophy as "do what I say, not what I do."