The problem with ‘Slow loris eating rice’


In the last week, a new viral slow loris video has penetrated the internet. An undeniably adorable, wide-eyed slow loris eating a ball of sticky rice, sometimes one grain at a time. Oh my gosh – it is soooo cute!! Or is it?

Well, yes! Slow lorises are beautiful to the eyes of many cultures. They are elegant creatures whose grasping hands are adapted to hold tightly to branches, and snatch important insect prey. Those huge eyes allow them to move in the forest during the darkest nights.

The cruelty of loris pets just begins to unfold. The loris is in a brightly lit room that really hurts its eyes. It goes into super slow mode. Wild lorises can ZOOM 8 km a night on the horizontal (e.g. not counting all the runs they make up and down vines, lianes, trunks and branches). When they are terrified they sit and look wide-eyed in the horrified manner of that cutey in the video. That is why so many of the commentators pick up on his fear and write, “but why does he look so scared?”

Lorises have a fabulously specialised diet, which is why we hardly ever see them in zoos, and why so many die even under specialised care. They eat insects full of secondary compounds, flower nectar, and tree gum. Rice will make them very very ill indeed! A favourite quote of mine about the loris is…’In captivity they will eat fruit, but so will a lion eat rice, or a hungry man his boots, but not with much gusto.”

The video features the Vulnerable CITES Appendix I-listed greater slow loris, Nycticebus coucang, found only in a limited range in Malaysia, Sumatra, Southern Thailand and Singapore. This group probably comprises at least three species or subspecies, meaning their conservation threat will even be greater. This also is one of the rarest types of of lorises found in zoos, meaning the animal in the video is almost without doubt from illegal trade. Even in countries where it is legal to have primate pets, the animal must have come from a legal import, and the parents must also have been legal; otherwise it is ILLEGAL to keep the animal. Even if the animal is bred at a pet shop, the parents must have been legally imported!!  It is almost certain that this little loris is therefore illegal, and YouTube is violating laws by showing illegal activity – the possession of an illegal CITES I listed animal as a pet.

Please don’t ‘like’ or ‘thumbs up’ this video and encourage this cruel trade. The suffering of animals for the trade is many not including:

1. being ripped from the forest, shoved in bags and plastic crates with no food and water

2. babies dying on the mother’s belly in this process

3. pregnant mothers miscarrying

4. most have their teeth cut out to avoid the venomous bite and most die due to secondary infection

5.most cannot stand the terrible market conditions and die before being sold

6. the rest nearly die during illegal transit

7. those that make it as a pet die due to poor diet and ill kept conditions, and live just 1-2 years rather than the 20 years they would live in the wild


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