Did Smoking Kill Charlie the Chimp?

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Cigarettes brought Charlie the Smoking Chimp fame and fortune, but did they also kill him? That's the question on ape enthusiasts' minds following news of Charlie's death Tuesday at the age of 52.

Admittedly, a chronic smoking habit does not seem like the healthiest life choice for a captive monkey, but officials at South Africa's Mangaung Zoo, where Charlie resided with his wife, Judy, say old age, not cigarettes, killed Charlie. (They may have a point: the average life expectancy for a chimp in captivity is 40 years.) Nonetheless, zoo spokesman Qondile Khedama confirmed to The Telegraph that a post mortem would be needed to officially determine the cause of death.

Also downplaying the cigarette angle was Daryl Barnes, the zoo's senior nature conservator, who told The Sun "no signs of addiction, or withdrawal, [had] ever been noticed" in the chimp. Moreover, Barnes said that in his 15 years at the zoo, he only saw Charlie smoke five times.

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