Without the help of YouTube, you might not even know slow lorises exist. For the uninitiated, slow lorises are a type of small primate that are equal parts weird and adorable. Multiple videos featuring people and their pet lorises have gone viral, but wildlife conservationists are raising the alarm that these videos are actually showing animal abuse. While the footage may seem harmless, experts agree that the lorises in these videos are not having a good time.
The truth behind cute slow loris videos is much darker than most people could ever imagine. First of all, slow lorises should absolutely not be kept as pets and there are a multitude of reasons why. They are an endangered species, so owning or buying a slow loris is a serious crime. There is an illegal slow loris trade set up to smuggles lorises out of their native habitat and into other countries, where they are sold as exotic pets. Unfortunately, the poor lorises undergo systemic cruelty and mistreatment every step of the way.
While awareness of the slow loris as an adorable animal is growing, the average person is completely unaware of the grim realities that this species faces every day. Human interference has a devastating impact on these fuzzy little guys, and the only way to save them is to educate the public about the barbaric ways in which they are hunted and sold.
Those "Cute" Tickling Videos Actually Show Torture
One of the most famous viral videos of a slow loris – and arguably the one that started the loris craze in the first place – features a loris named Sonya. In the video, Sonya puts her limbs high up in the air while her owner tickles her. While this may look like she's asking for more, she's actually telling her tickler to back off. This is a defensive position, one that lorises only take when they are stressed. While it may look cute to the viewer, Sonya is extremely agitated and just wants to be left alone.
Lorises Are The Only Venomous Primates On Earth
Slow lorises are the only known primates to excrete a venom, and their venom glands are located in their elbows. When threatened, lorises lick their elbows to get the venom on their teeth before delivering a deadly bite. So, when a loris raises its arms while being tickled, it's actually trying to reach its elbows to slurp up some venom.
Loris venom is strong enough to kill a human, although that's a worst-case scenario. Typically victims go into anaphylactic shock.
The Internet Has Increased The Demand For Illegal Lorises
People love looking at slow lorises, but their online fame is causing some seriously negative side effects. Lorises are more popular than ever, which means they have become an extremely profitable product for the exotic animal black market. While owning a slow loris is illegal in many countries, they're still an in-demand pet. That means more and more wild lorises are getting abducted from their natural habitats and shipped all around the globe.
The Slow Loris Trade Is Horrifically Barbaric
To put it bluntly, the slow loris trade is one of the most disturbing cases of mass animal cruelty in the world. The horrific conditions end up killing most captured lorises before they can even be sold, and the details are shocking. Since lorises are known for their venomous bites, poachers rip out all of the animals' teeth prior to sale. No anesthetic is applied, and people use dirty tools like nail clippers and pliers, potentially leading to all sorts of deadly infections.
Lorises are usually kept in dreadful conditions, sometimes stored in bags and subjected to exceedingly hot temperatures. They struggle to eat with their mutilated mouths and are rarely given the nutrients they need to be healthy. In some cases, over 80% of lorises die before they even make it to their final destination. For a slow loris, the journey to becoming a pet is a hellish nightmare.