A little bit of everything

Welcome to Aristurtle, a title lovingly ripped off from the Science of Sleep. This really is just a little bit of everything, a news digest pulled from many different sources. Generally anything that makes me want to rant tends to make it onto this blog, with very little plotting or advanced planning.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Adorable, but at a pretty high price

Youtube is home to many videos, some of them funny, some of them serious, some of them cute. Type in the name of any animal and the likelihood is that someone has uploaded a video of that animal. Perhaps one of the cutest of these videos is that of the slow loris being tickled by her owners:


When I first saw this I of course fell in love with that slow loris. They're a species I don't know much about, but their seeming docile nature and beautiful wide eyes would appeal to most people.

What I did find out, after further internet searching, was that the slow loris is practically an endangered species. Their conservation status is listed as "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. By that system, the slow loris is just one step away from endangered.

What the Russian owners of the slow loris in that video failed to mention is that it is illegal to own them as a pet in most countries, including Russia. Of course, in the later videos of their pet they insist that in their country it is perfectly legal.

The thing is, when the ownership of a certain animal as a pet is outlawed, there's usually a good reason for it. In this case, there are several good reasons. First of all, the slow loris is a strictly nocturnal animal, and therefore not suited to living with humans. You'll notice that in that video the animal is awake in what appears to be broad daylight. Secondly, because the species is so rare and endangered, it's unlikely that there will be a vet nearby that is able to treat them if they get sick.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the demand for these animals as pets leads poachers and hunters to snatch them from their natural habitat, normally as babies, to sell on the black market. They can be found in Southeast Asia, China, and Borneo among others. Since slow loris leave their young in the nest at night while they go hunting, largely unprotected, they are easy to snatch. Poachers will often carry them in uncomfortable wire cages and remove their teeth, often with pliers, to make them more suitable and harmless pets. The docile nature of the slow loris, as seen in the videos, in fact comes from their defence mechanism. When feeling threatened or frightened, they will simply relax.

All this because of a few youtube videos and cute pictures. It's enough to make me rethink my feelings anytime I see a cute exotic animal. It's tragic to think that an animal's cute aesthetic appearance can lead to its' demise.


  1. 1. These animals are sleeping all day because they would be killed by other animals on daylight
    2. I was living in Indonesia I spent a lot of time in Borneo and there many people own these animals and NOT by hunt them or anything like this, the loris choosed to stay with them.
    3. I think we should breed them, because in the wild they'll extinct. Yes ofcourse we should preserve the colonies in the jungle but we should also breed them if we want to see these creatures in the future

    P.S.: I'm sick of these jealous ecofascist writings even if I'm serious conservationist.

  2. I would definitely not consider myself an ecofascist. However I do think people should be informed about the reality that demand for these kinds of animals as pets can be damaging to the animal. I doubt many people looking at that video were aware the slow loris is endangered. Maybe if more people were aware the risks they wouldn't be poached. I can't say I know anything about the situation in Indonesia or Borneo, I'm simply speaking for Europe and that general area and in that area it doesn't seem right to me to keep a pet like this.

    As far as breeding goes, I would definitely be for that, but in a properly controlled environment like a zoo or a reserve. Breeding them as pets is not necessarily the only way to keep them around.