Recently we were approached by a woman who had purchased a ‘pet’ from the local pet market. This pet was a slow loris. After purchasing it and taking it home she had second thoughts about her decision and thought the animal should be returned to the wild and asked us for help.
Our staff retrieved the loris (later named Hugo) and educated the family about the issues surrounding pet markets and endangered species including the slow loris.
The slow loris is a solitary, nocturnal animal. In Indonesia it is called ‘Malu, Malu’ (Shy One) because when it is spotted by humans it will often hide its face with its paws.
The slow loris is on the IUCN Red List and is vulnerable and endangered. The primate has been in sharp decline thanks to wide-scale destruction of forest habitats and an increasing demand for exotic animals as pets through the illegal trade in wildlife.
The cute appearance of the slow loris has popularised it as a pet which is openly sold in pet markets in Bali and throughout South East Asia.
Looks, thought, can be deceiving. The slow loris is the only primate in the world to have a toxic bite. It secretes a toxin from a gland on the sides of its elbows. When threatened it will lick the gland to take the toxin into its mouth to be mixed with saliva.
The toxin is passed on through bites. The slow loris may lick its own fur or that of its young to deter predators.
Slow loris toxin can cause death through anaphylactic shock. Wildlife traders will pull the teeth of the loris to prevent bites from its razor sharp teeth. Many loris die from the intense trauma and the infections that follow. Hugo’s teeth had been pulled out.
We have relocated the Hugo and he is being rehabilitated in a sanctuary for endangered creatures run by our friends at PPS. It is unlikely Hugo will be able to be released as with no teeth he would be unable to live a normal life in the wild.
We ask people to NOT to purchase animals from pet markets. Please do not pay for or take your own photos of animals in unnatural settings. It is sad to see animals in captivity through the illegal wildlife trade and it might seem kind to purchase them.
Purchasing animals from pet markets only increases demand and stimulates this horrific and brutal trade. When an animal is sold, another is captured to replace it, thus continuing the cycle of misery.
BAWA works to raise awareness of cruel practices such as pet markets and the illegal wildlife trade and continues to advocate for effective animal welfare laws.