Seemingly Cute Loris Videos Hide a Disturbing Reality

slow loris cage photo

Photo credit: Soggydan/Creative Commons

The videos, one showing young slow loris being tickled and another featuring a loris clutching a cocktail umbrella, have received millions of views on YouTube and have become viral sensations but, animal-rights activists say, they hide a grisly truth: International trade in the endangered species that inevitably leads to their death.

Though the slow loris' native habitat in Southeast Asia is rapidly declining, the primary threat to their survival is poaching fueled by the exotic pet trade and traditional medicine market.Poachers steal infant loris' from their parents and sell them in open-air markets. The asking price is as low as $10 to $20 but once smuggled into Japan, Europe, or the United States, the price jumps to nearly $10,000.

The saddest part of the story is that the docile-looking primates to not make the natural pets they seem to in the videos. A loris' instinctual reaction to tickling would be to bite back, but smugglers remove the animal's teeth with pliers—assuring death by infection.

The normally nocturnal loris grips the umbrella because, blinded by the bright lights and confused about its environment, it believes the wooden stick to be a branch of bamboo.

Moreover, the young loris captives have often not developed the ability to care for themselves. This leaves them vulnerable to injury in their cages and also unable to clean themselves, meaning that they quickly become covered in urine and feces.

The videos of captive loris', conservationists argue, are helping to fuel the demand for these endangered species and, consequently, the illegal international trade.

Read more about slow loris:
It Takes Two...Slow Loris Babies to Make Your Day
Captivating Animal Portraits by Andrew Zuckerman Portray Nature In a Whole New Way (Slideshow)
7 Endangered Animals Cute Enough for Celebrities to Save

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