In Japan, slow loris is one of the most popular primates in recent years. We can see many images of them on the Internet. As a primatologist, I am glad that many people love primates especially, this small and cute prosimian. However, I cannot help feeling that Japanese Internet users prefer CAPTIVE or imaginary slow loris images to real WILD ones. It is huge shame if we are misunderstanding this precious animal’s real life and the situation surrounds them.
This June, Prof. Anna Nekaris of Oxford Brookes University visited Japan to enlighten us to conserve slow loris and do inspect the slow loris pet trade. She gave 5 lectures at Tokyo, Inuyama and Kyoto that succeeded very well; I was glad that Japanese citizens could know about the REAL life of wild slow lorises. We appreciate cute animals, but we must know the best way for their happiness. Anna’s lecture educated us how we should have a relationship with wild animals via slow loris.
I accompanied with Anna’s energetic inspection in pet shops to know how slow lorises are traded as pets in Japan. We could see small primates like squirrel monkeys, galagos and slow lorises were sold in several pet shops with quite expensive prices. The price of one slow loris is 180,000 yen (around $18,000), but there are a quite few people who want to buy them in spite of this expensive price.
Those slow lorises in the pet shops seemed not to have good health condition. One animal lost his fur, the other seemed obese. Their shapes were completely opposite from the wild one’s that Anna showed to audiences in her lecture. We could see their registration documents, but the problem of Japanese system is that the registration never expires, so it can be reused for several individuals after the death of a registered animal. We do not know that those individuals are really registered ones but could in fact be smuggled from the wild… Japanese slow loris lovers must know this reality.