Visitors now on their own to tell the difference between smokers and koalas.

Japan was once known as either a heaven or wasteland of smoking, depending on how you felt about the habit. And while a little behind other developed countries in terms of regulation, Japan has recently been catching up with a fervor, raising prices and reducing smoking spaces more and more.

However, whenever an environment is drastically changed it is the wildlife that suffers. Conservation efforts need to be made to protect the endangered smoker (homo sapiens tabakonomisis) and as always zoos are at the forefront of such endeavors.

But in order to fund efforts to feed and hopefully breed new generations of smokers in captivity, zoos must put them on display to the public as this one, an unidentified zoo discovered by Japanese Twitter user @Mind_Drive, had.

In a sealed enclosure these majestic creatures could be seen habitually inhaling burning leaves and chemicals. According to current studies, it is unclear whether this behavior is a mating ritual or simply to ward off predators.

However, like with all exhibits the sign tells us what researchers have learned thus far:

Name: Smoker
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens tabakonomisis (literally “tobacco controlled human”)
Classification: Primate Hominidae
They can be found all over the world, but in Japan their numbers are declining.
An animal whose behavior includes breathing the smoke from a leaf called “tobacco.”
If they go long periods without inhaling tobacco, individuals can become irritated and restless.
However, their countenance when smoking appears to be happy even if only for a fleeting moment.

Sadly, as the person who tweeted this image pointed out, the sign no longer exists in this zoo, possibly having been taken down due to complaints. This is probably the work of smoker rights activists such as PETS or Yellowish-Brown-Peace, complaining that smokers ought to be set free rather than cooped up in cages.

It’s a shame as the majority of public sentiment appears to be in favor of the exhibit.

“I thought it was funny. I would put a sign like that up in my company’s smoking area.”
“It actually made me worry about smokers.”
“I want these all over the country.”
“Come on. You have the rest of the park, can’t smokers huddle in that small place in peace without being mocked.”
“I’m a smoker and I thought it was funny. It wasn’t too preachy or in-your-face.”
“They said ‘homo’ lol.”
“I remember a child saying that those glass smoking rooms in restaurants look like a zoo.”
“It would be funny if there were an explanation of a non-smoker on the other side.”

Regardless of people’s opinions the zoo’s smoker sign was taken down, which is unfortunate. Smokers’ habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate, particularly in Tokyo where a large-scale cull is underway leading up to the Olympics. If this trend continues, smokers will become completely extinct in Japan, and the only place our children will be able to see one is in a museum or film noir.

Source, featured image: Twitter/@Mind_Drive