I know what you’re thinking when watching this picture: what a cute, fluffy little beast! Unfortunately all eight species of slow lorises are endangered; the Javan slow loris is one of the 25 most threatened animals in the world. Why? To make you laugh.
Slow lorises are living in Southeastern Asia: with their large eyes, soft fur and round head, they are immediately recognizable… and hunt down by poachers because of their pleasant appearance. Once they are captured – a child’s play because of their slowness –, lorises are illegally sold: despite being wild animals, they are extremely popular as pets and are regularly appearing in Youtube videos that are creating a buzz on the Internet for their cuteness and funny contents. Or so it seems.
As soon as they are captured, these wild animals are undergoing a constant pain and dread; according to Anthropology and primate conservation professor Anna Nekaris, after having been extracted from their natural environment, lorises’ life is “so horrific it cannot be imagined”. She provides more detail on how the animals are being transported:
“[Slow lorises are] shoved into plastic crates and bags; their teeth are clipped out with crude mechanisms with no anesthesia, no aftercare, no medicine and most die; multiple animals are transported in crates where they wound each other with their venomous bites; market conditions are inhumane, boiling hot, and cruel, with no proper food fed to the animals.”
Careful, the video hereunder may be disturbing to some viewers.
Source: International Animal Rescue’s Youtube Page.
Poachers’ first act is to cut or remove lorises’ teeth because of their defense mechanism. Indeed, these animals are able to secrete venom thanks to a gland inside their elbows when they feel threatened; they are then able to mix this venom with their saliva and to bite their object of fear. When having their teeth cut, many animals die of blood loss or infection, due to a lack of hygiene and medical caution; this act also prevents lorises from going back to their natural environment, as they will no longer be able to defend themselves into the wild.
When lorises are filmed for Youtube videos in an apparently “fun” posture, with arms raised, due to their unlawful owner’s tickling, it’s not because they are amused or because they are playing: it is because they are scared to death and are seeking a way of defending themselves. Hence the campaign’s name, created by NGO International Animal Rescue, that seeks to defend lorises: Tickling is Torture.
It is also important to note that lorises are nocturnal animals; as soon as they are caught, they are exposed to blinding lights, during their transportation and when living with their owner. A characteristic that increases lorises’ gigantic suffering, combined to an improper diet and a great loneliness.
According to slow lorises’ defenders, even though you can’t directly act on field or financially, there is one crucial thing you can do to contribute into putting an end to this illegal traffic: not sharing and/or liking a video showing lorises kept as pets.
So next time you come across a “funny” loris video, think twice before you click on it.
If you want to learn more on lorises’ defense:
• Tickling is Torturing campaign that protects and nurse lorises;
• NGO International Rescue Animal, which defends loris and other endangered species;
• A University of Kent study that explores the link between lorises being exposed on the Internet and public’s perceptions.
Featured image: Gray slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) photographed at Dindigal in Tamil Nadu, June, 27th 2008. © Kalyan Varma via Wikimedia.