Happy in the wild vs. Helpless in a market.
Hi. My name’s Forrest. My owner called me this because he thinks it’s funny, but really us slow lorises shouldn’t be given names. Ironic as well since forests are the only places I’m happy, not that he cares.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen one. I was out on my evening stroll with my mum a few months ago, when all of a sudden there were lights and noise all around us. Some strange creature I now know to be a ‘human’ shone a torch into her big beautiful eyes, blinded her, and then they murdered her. She fell from the tree, whilst I was grabbed kicking and screaming and thrown into a bag full of other baby lorises. Apparently we’re easier to handle.
A couple of hours later, we were released into a bright, scary room. They picked up one of the other lorises, along with a pair of pliers. They pulled out her teeth. Oh my God, the blood… She cried and shouted and the floor turned red, before blacking out. Then the man looked at me. I don’t remember much of what happened next.
I woke up shivering and my whole face hurting badly. Looking around, there were six others in the box with me and all in agony. I guess painkillers would be a waste of money. Where their teeth had been, I could only see open, festering holes. Some looked infected. It’s really hot and humid in the tropics, so germs can be rampant. This is where a lot of lorises die. The poachers then just go back into the jungle and find some more.
All I wanted was my mum, but I tried not to think about her body being left to rot back in the woods. Instead, us orphans clung together trying to offer a little comfort. Minutes turned into hours, and hours into days. The nausea and feeling of weakness went up, whilst my hopes went down. For one of the others it was already too late.
Some time later we were taken to an animal market and stuffed into a tiny cage with some other lorises. We would only be briefly let out when someone wanted to take a look at us, usually picking us up, or poking and smiling at us like they thought they were being nice. Left outside, people don’t realise either that we don’t like daylight and it hurts our eyes. We’re nocturnal beings, any time the sun’s up I should be safely tucked up in a tree sleeping.
Stomach growls began to accompany the whimpering which engulfed us all. By now I could start to see my bones sticking out through my thick fur. I did get the occasional scrap of food, though I had trouble eating it for obvious reasons. Water was a little easier, but also had to be rationed between us. Another couple of lorises had arrived by then, including one missing an eye and one who didn’t stop crying for his mother. I knew how he felt.
Occasionally one of the orphans would be plucked out legs first, receive an all over eye exam and then disappear, seemingly forever. Were they to become meals? Were they so weak that they’d simply be thrown away? Or had they been sent away to some distant, unknown land as a few rumours said..? A couple of nights later, I discovered the answer.