I write this in response to the viral videos of supposedly "cute" Slow Lorises that have been circulating the internet via Youtube.
All Slow Lorises come from Southeast Asia and they are on the CITES 1 list which means they are a threatened species that is protected by law. And yet, the numbers of Slow Loris in the wild are continuously decreasing day after day. The main reason for this: they are captured, and subjected to the illegal pet trade. Aside from being shipped in cruel and hazardous conditions (that often result in the death of many of these animals), Slow Lorises are also mutilated in order to "prepare" them and make them more "suitable" for the exotic pet trade.
The Slow Loris is unique among mammals in that it is one of the few animals capable of producing toxins as a means of self defense. This toxin is administered through a potentially toxic bite. In order to make the Loris seem more "children friendly" and "suitable" as a pet, Slow Lorises often have their teeth forcibly removed prior to shipping, often in unsanitary conditions and without any form of anesthesia. It is at this juncture that I would like to gently remind you that these animals are primates and therefore have a similar teeth and jaw structure as ours. Now imagine, if you will, the kind of pain and agony you would have to go through if someone took a giant pair of clippers and went ape shit in your mouth. As you can imagine, many Lorises do not in fact survive this procedure and eventually succumb either to blood loss, shock, and severe blood infections. Those that do live have to cope with chronic pain.
But the suffering of these endearing looking animals does not end there. Even if they survive the grueling journey to whatever country it is they are to be traded in, they will now have to deal with the hardships of living in captivity. As a predominantly wild animal that was forcibly removed from its native environment, the experience can be very stressful. Remember, these animals are primates and are therefore reasonably intelligent by animal standards. This also makes them prone to suffering from any number of "human-like" diseases such as depression and anxiety that can manifest in behavioral problems, self mutilation or aggression. Should they be so lucky as to be placed in loving and caring homes, they still need to suffer the life-long effects of their bodily mutilation. The removal of the Slow Loris' teeth is permanent. They WILL NOT GROW BACK. This can make it very difficult for them to eat and would (as you can imagine) change their acceptable diet quite dramatically. Consequently many of those that have lived thus long, then succumb to various ailments related to malnutrition. Slow Loris are not captive animals and do not do very well in captivity. In fact, when kept in a caged environment, they do not readily breed, which means that everytime a Loris dies and needs to be replaced, it is replaced by one that was caught from the wild!
The problem is that while Slow Loris are growing in popularity as pets in countries like the United States and Japan (and apparently, Youtube) where they can sell for exorbitant prices, not many people (Loris owners included) know the "true story" behind this. Indeed we watch those videos and it is so easy to succumb to how "cute" and "docile" these animals look when they are being handled miniscule props like umbrellas, or tickled while they are laid down on their backs when the fact is that this is actually behavior that is characteristic of their passive-defensive reaction to threatening situations. It is thus my hope that you can help me spread awareness by sharing this with your family and friends and in doing so, make the "truth" become viral as well. So the next time one of us comes across another one of these "Cute Slow Loris Videos" on Youtube... as will be better educated and we can educate others, and in doing so spread awareness, because now we know better. Remember, when the buying stops, the mutilation will stop too.