Booie, the smoking chimpanzee, dies at 44

Posted Dec. 15, 2011, at 7:55 p.m.

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This undated file photo provided by the Wildlife Waystation shows Booie the chimpanzee, who died Saturday, Dec. 11, 2011, at age 44, while being  treated for a heart condition. Booie kicked a smoking habit at the animal sanctuary near Los Angeles, where he had lived since 1995, after retiring from a research lab.
Dave Welling | AP
This undated file photo provided by the Wildlife Waystation shows Booie the chimpanzee, who died Saturday, Dec. 11, 2011, at age 44, while being treated for a heart condition. Booie kicked a smoking habit at the animal sanctuary near Los Angeles, where he had lived since 1995, after retiring from a research lab.

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

Martine Colette of the Wildlife WayStation says Booie was being treated for a heart condition when he died Saturday at 44. The chimp had been living at the animal sanctuary near Los Angeles since 1995, after he retired from a research lab.

Colette says she turned Booie into a non-smoker but couldn’t fix his sweet tooth. She says he would use his skill to panhandle 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. Martine says he had fans around the world because of his TV appearances.

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