On the 16th of November 3.5 million North American viewers learned the truth that slow lorises featured in illegal YouTube videos just are not as cute as they seem. Thanks to a provocative piece featured on ABC’s Nightline with correspondent Jeffrey Kofman, filmed with the kind collaboration of the mammal staff of the UK Paignton Zoo, viewers saw that lorises simply are not cuddly pets.
Like many other videos, ‘Slow loris eating sticky rice’ went viral earlier this year. With claims that their pet was ‘domesticated,’ ‘bought in a pet shop,’ and ‘was okay because she did not have her teeth ripped out,’ the situation was made worse when the video was advocated by top market sources such as the Washington Post and CNN, who urged viewers to watch the ‘cute’ video as ‘relief’ from the grief wrought by Superstorm Sandy.
Unbeknownst to these viewers, however, is that each click contributes to a cruel trade. NO slow loris is domestic. In order for a loris to be sold legally to a pet shop, it or its parents must be legally imported into the selling country to be specifically bred as pets. This is not the case for ‘Kinako,’ meaning she is illegal (we could not find any case of lorises from Sumatra legally imported into Japan for commercial breeding). The photos above, from WCS Sumatra, show the supply trade for lorises like Kinako (a Sumatran slow loris) and how they ultimately get to Japanese pet shops – it is a horrifying story to say the least. Luckily Kinako DOES have teeth, but this is rare. Unfortunately her owner knows nothing about how to care for a loris. She is kept in a brightly lit room, that hurts her eyes. She is kept in a cage with no branches, which is why she clings to a fork, and eating rice will ultimately kill her. It is certainly not a cute video.
Thanks so much to ABC for trying to counteract the damage of organisations like YouTube, CNN and the Washington Post. We urge to leave comments on the CNN video; the Washington Post has already closed comments to their site. YouTube itself still refuses to comment on why they allow illegal loris videos to continue. And thanks to Paignton Zoo‘s pygmy slow loris Josh for being so formidable and growling throughout the entire interview! He was not going to show ANYONE that he was cute and cuddle!