Darwin Animal Doctors


International Slow Loris Day

A wonderful team of people, committed to slow-loris conservation, including the team as ISCP, https://www.facebook.com/iscp.original, have decided to dedicate September 13th as International Slow Loris Day. In honour of this, this week, we are all about slow-lorises!!!!


These beautiful, little, nocturnal primates have some unique adaptations that make them incredibly interesting. For a start they have a toxic bite!!! The only primate to have to have this trait! They have a gland on their upper arm that they lick, which combines with their saliva (made toxic from vegetation they eat), to form their toxic bite! It has been known to cause anaphylactic shock and even one reported death in humans!

There are 8 different species of slow loris, found all across Southeast Asia, in tropical and subtropical regions in rainforests, bamboo groves and mangrove forests.

The species our friends in Sumatra are dedicated to rescuing are the Sunda slow loris. These lovely little creatures are listed as ‘Endangered’, with all species being ‘Threatened’, ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘Endangered’. The lovely, distinctive pattern around those huge eyes differs from each species.

Slow lorises have a very low basal metabolic rate- they’re slow, very much like sloths! and yet they have a high calorie diet: fruit, gum tree, nectar, insects and small animals and birds. So why the slow metabolism? It’s so they can eat toxic foods to give them that toxic bite we talked about earlier. For example, slow lorises feed on Gluta bark, which can be fatal to humans.

And because of their slow movement, the lorises’ defenses are to hardly disturb the vegetation as they move in the trees and they are almost completely silent. Once disturbed, they immediately stop moving and remain motionless. That and the toxic chemicals they brush into the fur of their young, help protect them against predators including snakes, hawk-eagles, cats, sun bears, binturongs, civets, and any other predators.

Unfortunately, all slow lorises are threatened by the wildlife trade and habitat loss. Their habitat is rapidly disappearing and becoming fragmented, making it nearly impossible for slow lorises to disperse between forest fragments. And there are deep-rooted beliefs about the supernatural powers of slow lorises, such as their supposed abilities to ward off evil spirits or to cure wounds in traditional medicine. In many parts of S.E.Asia, certain parts of these poor creatures are also supposed to bring good luck.

But what we’re seeing, seemingly ever increasingly in Sumatra, is the trade in slow lorises as exotic pets. Slow lorises are sold locally at street markets, as they are very popular pets, particularly in Indonesia. They are often seen as “living toys” for children by local people. Weekly, ISCP’s team in Sumatra are rescuing slow loris that are being kept as pets. Often the individuals keeping them hand them over willingly having not known previously that local laws prohibit the trade in slow lorises. As these groups educate the local communities, more people become aware that their actions are in fact illegal.

Even sadder is the international smuggling of slow lorises to Japan, China, Taiwan, Europe, Russia, the United States, and Saudi Arabia for use as pets. They’re considered especially popular because “they’re easy to keep, they don’t cry, they’re small, and just very cute.”

To protect people from their potentially toxic bite, animal dealers pull out their front teeth This results in severe bleeding, which sometimes causes shock or death.

Without their teeth, the animals can no longer fend for themselves in the wild, and must remain in captivity for life. Slow lorises are also stress-sensitive and do not do well in captivity. Common health problems seen in pet slow lorises include undernourishment, tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, and kidney failure. Infection, stress, pneumonia, and poor nutrition lead to high death rates among pet lorises.

Any rescued lorises at ISCP undergo a full medical before release, and are rehabilitated at the centre where necessary. In its lifetime, ISCP has rescued over 70 slow loris, along with leopard cats, macaques, gibbons, binturong, sun bears, raptors and over 1000 songbirds and other wildlife. 4 slow loris were rescued and released in the last week of August alone, with 6 being cared for at the rehabilitation centre right now.

So we at DAD, with our partners at ISCP and other friends and NGO’s would love for these beautiful, shy creatures to be recognised and protected this September 13th.

And I’ll finish with my favourite Loris fact… They first appeared in the Asian fossil record around 18 million years ago, and they are distant cousins of the equally beautiful lemurs in Madagascar.


Tod and the Team, Darwin Animal Doctors


In loving memory of our hero, Piggy:

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