Cute. Cuddly. Fluffy. Adorable. Wild. These are all words which describe Southeast Asia’s most peculiar primate, the slow loris. Compared to their distant relatives but neighbours such as orang-utans and macaques, lorises have clambered under the public radar. That is until recently. With the advent of the internet and Youtube, these particular prosimians are now known to millions worldwide.
Lorises are difficult enough keep in zoos. Relatively little is known about the species, whilst they fall into the somewhat unique category of venomous mammals. Secreting oil from their arms, this is mixed with saliva to create a potentially deadly cocktail when biting. Therefore when illegally captured from the wild, the first port of call is to remove their teeth. This is performed mercilessly with appliances such as wire cutters or pliers, often leaving the wound to become infected and resulting in a slow, painful death.
Meanwhile in the cyber world, videos of lorises as pets are becoming ever increasingly popular. Shown being tickled, holding umbrellas or taken on car rides, the scenes appear innocent. In turn, comments are left about how great a pet they must be, plus the inevitable inquiries as to where they can be purchased. Behind that though, is a world of suffering. For each one sent from a wildlife market and then across Asia, America or Europe, they are replaced. More are plucked from the jungle, more mothers are separated from their young, and more die for nothing.
With their habitat also being destroyed and the continued poaching of them for bush meat and supposed medicinal purposes, one of the planet’s most loveable animals is facing the very real threat of extinction. Despite a worldwide ban on the trade of the slow loris, we need to act and to educate, before its fate is sealed. Can you help?