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A chimpanzee hooked on smoking has been given a second chance at a healthier life in a Brazilian sanctuary. Animal rights workers rescued him from a zoo in Lebanon.
The 12-year-old Omega was welcomed last week to a 108,000-square-foot ranch in the southern state of Parana -- a home much more spacious than the cage where he spent the past eight years.
[Anita Starostik, Chimp Sanctuary Founder]:
"Omega is very well, very calm, he is not asking for cigarettes. We are not giving him any medications for now because we don't think he needs it. He is being fed basically with fruits and juices and everything he needs to remain calm."
Members of the non-governmental organization Animals Lebanon found him at a 430-square-foot cage puffing on cigarettes to entertain visitors at a zoo in Ansar.
Omega is being quarantined in a house while veterinarians test him for several diseases and give him treatments for his addiction and his teeth.
[Paulo Diniz Basteane, Veterinarian]:
"We are doing treatments for his cigarette abstinence, but we are not using nicotine patches or anything that would simply motivate him to (cut off his addiction), or ease his condition. He is just not going to receive cigarettes anymore."
Omega's integration with other chimps will be carried out slowly, since he has never interacted with fellow chimps before.
Once ready, he will be taken to a large area mimicking his natural environment. Fully equipped with toys such as trampolines.
Omega, who weighs around 132 pounds, developed a nicotine addiction after picking up cigarettes apparently thrown to him by visitors. In his early years he entertained customers at a restaurant.
The sanctuary is one of the four in Brazil associated with the Great Ape Project. The project was founded in the United States in 1993.