Not Forrest, but Youtube ‘celebrity’ Sonya. Behind her eyes lies a similar story.
Pain. Sadness. Loneliness. Torture. This is the existence of a pet slow loris. After being ripped from my mother and my teeth removed with pliers, I was then stuffed in a man’s pockets and smuggled aboard an airplane to be taken far away from Asia.
The loris in the man’s other pocket died. No doubt he just phoned for another to be taken from the rainforest, thus the whole vicious cycle is repeated again. I haven’t seen a tree, let alone the forest in weeks now. I’m so, so homesick. Looking around, all I see are metal bars and a water bottle made for hamsters.
That I’m forced to live in a three-by-two-by-two foot cage is bad enough when adult lorises can comfortably travel five plus miles in a night. Often we’re then fed human food through the bars, forcing down horrible, unnatural things such as rice through our now mangled teeth. This makes us seriously ill. With our digestive systems made for gums and insects that even zoos struggle to provide, my life expectancy is now between one and two years. Back in the forest it’d be twenty plus.
Other factors also add to this. The temperature and climate also make us unwell, we’re not adaptable beings at all. That’s why we’re found in so few places. Put ‘cute’ clothes or props on us and the situation’s even worse. Often this is around the time we’re taken out of our cages and a camera shoved in our face, poked and leered at as though circus performers. Most of those who watch the resulting videos do not understand.
Millions of people have seen these clips on Youtube. Very few stop to think that we’re nocturnal and so the bright lights and flashing of lenses scares us and damages our eyes, whilst even less people realise that us holding our arms in the air to be ‘tickled’ is in fact a defensive mechanism; it’s from here that we secrete part of our poison.
Despite our name, slow lorises really aren’t that slow. These situations and the lights force us into a shocked state though, making our movements lethargic and laboured. And you think that we look happy? Try spending the other twenty-three hours and fifty-eight minutes of your day stuffed inside a small metallic prison.
‘Liking’ these videos on Youtube then makes the owner money. This in effect is offering financial incentive to own a loris. I shouldn’t have even heard of the word ‘money’. In turn, organised crime is funded by the illegal smuggling of lorises. Behind drugs and arms, wildlife is the world’s third most profitable illicit trade.
In a way I wish I’d died back in the market or on the plane. I’m not sure my body can handle much more. I’ll probably be dead soon. I just hope that not many others have to go through this. We should be left alone in the jungle, as all wildlife should. Not paraded in front of cameras with umbrellas, whilst back in Asia for each one who dies in a market or airport another few are taken from the forest. I could go on but one little loris can’t make a difference. Hopefully you can.
In only ten days I am partaking in the Run to the Beat half-marathon in aid of the Little Fireface Project and slow lorises. Please help me to help them.