Smoking chimp at North Korean zoo 'does not inhale'

A smoking chimpanzee called Azalea has become a star attraction at a zoo in Pyongyang, North Korea - although officials insist she does not inhale.

The 19-year-old female chimpanzee, whose name in Korean is Dallae, lives at the renovated zoo, which has become a favourite leisure spot in the capital since it reopened in July.

Though such a sight would draw outrage in many other places, it seemed to delight visitors, and Azalea's trainer also prompted her to touch her nose, bow thank you and do a simple dance.

The zoo is pulling in thousands of visitors a day with a range of attractions ranging from elephants, giraffes, penguins and monkeys to a high-tech natural history museum with displays showing the origins of the solar system and the evolution of life on Earth.

Another of the most popular attractions that might come as a surprise to foreign visitors is the dog pavilion, which has everything from German shepherds to Shih Tzus.

The zoo also has performances featuring other animals trained to do tricks, including a monkey that slam dunks basketballs, dogs trained to appear as though they can do addition or subtraction on an abacus and doves that fly around and land on a woman skating on an indoor stage.

Renovations for the new zoo began in 2014 as part of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's efforts to create more modern and impressive structures and leisure centres around the capital.

The zoo actually dates back to 1959, when Kim Il Sung, the nation's first leader and the grandfather of Kim Jong Un, ordered it built on the outskirts of the city.

According to its official history, the zoo started off with only 50 badgers.


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