Just because I’m cute

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.

The slow loris is a relatively small mammal found in South East Asia. If you do a Youtube search you undoubtedly come across a cute looking creature that looks endearing and comical to humans. Evolution has granted them big eyes to see in the dark and a soft, warm fur to protect their bodies. Perversely evolution has given humans a craving for creatures with big eyes and delicate features. I believe it reminds them of babies. The two species sadly are not compatible.

Slow Lorises are sold into the illegal pet trade in such numbers that all loris species are now on the CITES endangered lists.

That’s not the end of this one-sided story either. Evolution gave the slow loris a means to hunt, kill prey and protect itself. It laces its sharp teeth with a toxin. Obviously the traders cannot have their customers dying so they break the teeth with nail clippers meaning the hapless slow loris is sold not only as a living puppet, but also with a death sentence. If they don’t die of an infection due to their broken teeth, they die of starvation.

Buying a slow loris may seem like a way to get a real life Furby or a Mogwai (pre midnight fed gremlin), but the reality for the loris is so far removed from the pleasure people get from the experience that it’s perverse.

Thankfully for the slow loris there is help. International Animal Rescue (a British based charity) has the world’s only slow loris rescue facility. It’s based in Indonesia (where loris’ come from) and it rescues, rehabilitates and where possible, releases loris that have been sold on the streets.

One of the biggest hurdles for IAR is the treatment of the teeth. The head vet at the centre has developed a root canal procedure for loris’ which requires delicate handling and a very steady hand. I was allowed into one of these procedures and this image, I feel, is the most powerful as it shows just how vulnerable the slow loris is and how cruel humans can be. This loris is having the broken teeth removed  so they do not get infected. The teeth are tiny and the vet needs a very steady hand. The whole operation of preparing the animal for surgery and then performing the surgery is risky for the loris, but thankfully this one pulled through. So a happy ending of sorts.

If you are tempted to view a slow loris video on youtube or anywhere else, please let the owner of the loris know just how much suffering went into their delight and joy.

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