"Defendants have for decades allowed members of the general public to throw items into Candy's cage, including lit cigarettes that Candy smokes. Just as with humans, cigarette smoking is very harmful for chimpanzees," and letting her smoke violates the Endangered Species Act, the suit states.

The lawsuit is the first filed under a new federal rule that requires captive chimps to get the same protection as wild chimps, said Carter Dillard, the group's attorney. That rule, which was made public in June and took effect Sept 14, changes captive chimps' classification from threatened to endangered, the same classification as wild chimpanzees.

The animal rights group said the women have seen visitors throw lit cigarettes into Candy's cage for the chimp to smoke. City animal control officials cited the park in 2012 for not providing water for Candy, according to the suit.

"Defendants provide Candy exclusively with Coca-Cola instead, claiming that Candy does not like water. However, Candy has readily accepted and drunk water offered to her by visiting experts. Water, not Coca-Cola, is an essential requirement for chimpanzees," according to the suit.

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