The famous ‘Tickling Slow Loris Video’ uploaded in 2009 by Dmitry Sergeyev includes the following note by the uploaders…
1. First of all, we are located in St.Petersburg, RUSSIA.
2. It is NOT ILLEGAL in Russia to own this animals.
3. Our Sonya was born in a slow loris nursery and we have bought her in a local pet-shop. She never was in the wild. Thats why she is so tame and friendly!
We would like to address these points to illustrate how the internet can be used to disillusion people and convince them that something that is almost certainly illegal is okay, especially in a case like this, where countless suffering has been inflicted on probably 1000s of animals en route to the illegal pet trade.
First, we have already addressed the fact that Russia and the former USSR are/were a party to CITES and therefore all pygmy lorises entering the country would need to be registered by CITES. If someone wanted to import enough lorises to have a breeding nursery, this would require a substantial number, at least ten if not more, as this animal produced only two offspring every two years or so and where is the profit in that? Also, the offspring rarely survive (see below).
In fact, if we examine the publicly available CITES database considering pygmy loris only (Sonya’s species), we can find that in 1985, 2 were imported into the Soviet Union for ‘scientific purposes’, 2 in 1989 for a zoo, in 1991 3 more for a zoo. In 1998 and 1999, 6 and 11 pygmy slow lorises were illegally imported into Russia from Vietnam, and reported as such by the authorities. Normally such individuals are handed over to zoos. We are aware of many other cases of illegal imports that were not reported to the authorities (e.g. reported via internet etc). As such, no loris was EVER legally imported into Russia for pets, and no animal has ever left the zoo collections to go into a pet nursery. Even if it is legal to have a pet loris in Russia, under CITES, if the parents were not legally imported, the offspring are thus ILLEGAL. It is more likely however that these animals are not from a nursery but are simply illegally smuggled. This is why.
Zoos in the western world have changed a lot these days. They work very hard to keep genetically viable captive populations of animals. As wild populations dwindle, some species may exist only in zoos. Few species have been successfully rewilded from zoo animals but it has happened, and fertilisations from zoo animals to wild are also possible to increase genetic diversity. Opinions of zoos vary tremendously but it can’t be denied that many people gain their first love of animals from zoos, and many zoos now are not only developing tremendous conservation education centres, but also are using those animals in their care as ambassadors to gain support and funding for their dwindling relatives in the wild.
I highlight here two of the key areas in which zoo experts are indeed just that…experts in developing captive nutrition for exotic animals and developing captive breeding programmes. Teams of experts in every zoo work meticulously on these issues. We have addressed the complex issue of loris diet in two posts now and pointed out the obese animals in many of the YouTube videos and how this is a fast track to their death. For the latter issues, captive breeding, studbooks are set up for every species, and a database called ISIS is available showing births and deaths of every animal in every zoo. Zoos celebrate their births and the public of course love to see these young animals.
Well, for lorises, the case is a bit bleak.In all registered zoos world-wide, only about 100 pygmy slow lorises occur, and births are rare. For the slow loris, with its 4 currently recognised species and soon to be 7, less than 75 animals are scattered throughout the world’s zoos with virtually none breeding. Thus if these caring experts have such a hard time breeding these rare animals and keeping them alive, it is highly doubtful that there are profit-making loris nurseries in Japan, Poland and Russia supplying YouTubers with their plethora of lorises.
Please THINK before you believe what you read on YouTube and please don’t buy slow lorises as pets, even from a pet shop. It is almost certain they are pet trade victims smuggles from the wild or born to smuggled parents. They belong in the wild.