As a UK Mothering Sunday special edition, we have created an ‘extra’ newsletter. We sometimes forget that in all their otherworldly cuteness, slow lorises are, just like monkeys, orang-utans and humans, primates. They have large brains, hands with thumbs, and loving social relationships. Their period of pregnancy is 6.5 months and for such a small animal, they suckle for a long time – several months – and do not leave their parents until after they are a year to 18 months old. They can live until they are 20! If you compare this to a similarly-sized grey squirrel, it becomes evident that lorises are very special indeed, and that keeping one in a tiny cage, with no branches, and no social partners, is not the life for these primate cousins of ours.
We also reflect, that during this week of COP 16 in Thailand that it was only 6 years ago that slow lorises were transferred to Appendix 1 of CITES. It was believed at the time that this move would help to stop the enormous trade in these adorable species. But it seems only to have gotten worse. In 2007, there had not yet been a “tickling slow loris” or “slow loris holding tiny umbrella” or “slow loris eating rice” video to embed in the mind of the public that it is somehow ok to have a wild Endangered animal as a pet because lorises, unlike fierce animals like tigers or pig-tailed macaques, submit when man-handled, and their submission, sadly for them, looks adorable. And in our selfishness, we just seem to want them more and more.
We have just heard that on Facebook, the viral “slow loris eating rice” video has been shared a 20000th time. I even had it shared on my own page by a friend who knew I studied lorises and had seen a film I made about the illegal trade. I was shocked and dismayed. If those we know who know the suffering of the loris think a video like that is okay, what hope is there? Please do your part by NOT sharing those videos and telling everyone you know about the truth behind the illegal trade.
And do enjoy our new newsletter.We could not upload it today! We will try again tomorrow