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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Smoking China chimp kicks habit
Ai Ai enjoys a cigarette in her glass enclosure
Ai Ai took up smoking after losing her first mate
A female chimpanzee in a Chinese zoo has managed to kick the habit after smoking for 16 years, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ai Ai, 27, first took up smoking after her mate died in 1989.

After a second spouse died in 1997 and her daughter was moved to another zoo, the broken-hearted chimp's health reportedly started deteriorating.

Zoo keepers say they are giving her mouth-watering food and playing pop music to improve her mood.

"In the first few days, she squealed for cigarettes every now and then," Xinhua reported one zookeeper at the safari park in the Shaanxi province, north-west China, as saying.

"But as her life became more colourful, she gradually forgot about them altogether."

Her new, busy lifestyle includes walking after breakfast, exercising in the evening and being served "fried dishes and dumplings at every meal" on top of bananas, rice and milk, he said.

Now and then, she can also borrow her human friend's walkman to listen to music.

It is not clear how Ai Ai developed her addiction, and whether she was first given cigarettes from the same guardians who have helped her quit.

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