Lorises may be cute, but please don’t buy one as a pet

January 9, 2014 — Last November, Duke Lemur Center curator Andrea Katz wrote this post about why you should never buy a lemur or a loris as a pet. In today’s post, high school student and Lemur Center volunteer Tyne Tyson explains why being irresistibly cute can spell trouble for these endangered animals:

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On November 6th — just a day after Andrea Katz asked readers to help stop the pet trade in lemurs and lorises — a shipment of 238 slow lorises was seized in Serang, Banten by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA). Six had already died in the inhumanely cramped conditions; the rest will be rehabilitated and released to the wild. This is the second bust in Indonesia in two months.

In the past few years slow lorises have been getting a lot of media attention, like this picture Rihanna took with one in September. Research has linked this with the epidemic of cute slow loris videos on YouTube.

The first slow loris video, of a slow loris being tickled, went viral in 2009, and several, including the video of a slow loris eating a rice ball and another with an umbrellahave gone viral. It’s not hard to see why these are so popular; lorises are adorable, with huge eyes and teddy bear-like appearances. The most frequent comment on the video was how cute the loris was – the second most common was people saying “I want one.” Since these videos have gone viral, there has been a spike in slow lorises sold as pets, or used as photo props for tourists.  In both cases, lorises are subjected to inhumane conditions, with their teeth and claws cut off and kept in unhealthy conditions.

Read more:

Anne-Isola Nekaris, K., Nicola Campbell, Tim G. Coggins, E. J. Rode, and Vincent Nijam. “Tickled to Death: Analysing Public Perceptions of ‘Cute’ Videos of Threatened Species (Slow Lorises ? Nycticebus Spp.) on Web 2.0 Sites.” PLOS ONE:. Plos One, 24 July 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.

Hannah. “Record Number of Slow Lorises Seized in Indonesia [PHOTOS].” Record Number of Slow Lorises Seized in Indonesia [PHOTOS]. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.

Nekaris, Anna. “Killer Cuteness: How YouTube Sent an Endangered Species to the Brink of Extinction.” The Ecologist. N.p., 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.

Osborne, Hannah. “Record Number of Slow Lorises Seized in Indonesia [PHOTOS].” International Business Times. N.p., 15 Nov. 213. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.

“Record Number of Lorises Seized.” The Jakarta Globe. Berita Satu Media Holdings, 15 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.

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Tyne Tyson started volunteering at the Duke Lemur Center when she was 11 as a Junior Docent.  Now 17, she has moved up to Tour Guide and is a Senior at East Chapel Hill High School.