Booie, the smoking chimpanzee, dies

A chimpanzee that kicked a smoking habit and used sign language to beg for candy has died at a California animal refuge.

Martine Colette, founder of the Wildlife WayStation, said Booie was being treated for a heart condition when he died, at the age of 44.

The chimp had been living at the animal sanctuary near Los Angeles since 1995, after he retired from a research lab.

Colette said she successfully turned Booie away from his smoking habit but could not make a dent in his love of sweets.

She said he would use his signing skills to panhandle for candy by signing, "Booie see sweet in pocket."
Booie's death is a serious blow to the financially troubled refuge because he was one of its best fundraisers.
Colette said he had fans around the world because of his TV appearances.

Chimpanzees rarely live beyond 40 in the wild but have been known to live more than 60 years in captivity.
It has not been established whether Booie's smoking habit contributed to his death.

Booie was eight years younger than Charlie, another chimpanzee famous for his smoking, who died in South Africa last year at the age of 52.

Charlie lived at Bloemfontein Zoo and first started his smoking habit after visitors began throwing lit cigarettes into his enclosure.

Zoo spokesman Qondile Khedama insisted Charlie was only an 'occasional smoker', but had none the less become famous around the world.

The average age of a chimpanzee in captivity

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