IAR launches petition to stop YouTube showing 'cute' clips of captive slow lorises
International Animal Rescue's team in Indonesia has launched an online petition to stop YouTube showing clips of endangered slow lorises being kept illegally as pets. The slow loris is an endangered primate species from Southeast Asia but, owing at least partly to the videos on YouTube, this shy little creature is a very popular pet both in its native countries and internationally.
In the last year, two videos showing the pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) as a pet have gone 'viral', receiving together nearly nine million views. Both videos show these nocturnal animals in unnatural daylight conditions. The first is of an obese slow loris being tickled, while the second shows a highly stressed loris with a head wound desperate to grasp a tiny umbrella.
Videos like these which portray the slow loris as a cute, furry pet increase the demand for them and fuel the trade. But although in the clips the little animals seem to enjoy being tickled or playing with an umbrella, their behaviour is in fact a natural response to stress and fear.
The pet trade in slow lorises is not only illegal but also incredibly cruel. International Animal Rescue investigators have filmed market traders breaking the lorises' teeth off with pliers to protect them from the toxic bite. Many animals die either during transport or in captivity, while population numbers in the wild are dwindling and the slow loris is on the brink of extinction.
International Animal Rescue's team in Indonesia runs the only specialist rehabilitation centre in the world for rescued slow lorises. The facility currently has more than 100 slow lorises in its care, the majority with their teeth broken off which means they may never be able to return to the wild. IAR hosts a PhD student in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University who is undertaking research into the viability of release programmes for slow lorises. Several students from the "Nocturnal Primate Research Group" from the University of Indonesia have also conducted research on slow lorises at IAR's centre. IAR also runs a continuous educational programme to raise awareness of the loris species.
Says Alan Knight OBE, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue: "We urge all animal lovers around the world to sign this petition and help put an end to a trade which causes unbelievable suffering to slow lorises and is pushing the entire species closer and closer to extinction."