Those videos of people tickling their pet slow lorises are ADORABLE right?
You might not think so for much longer.
A UK charity is now campaigning to reveal the horrifying cruelty behind the trade in slow lorises - and the dark truth behind those seemingly cute videos.
Animal Rescue International wants to ensure that the public realises that the creature’s reaction to tickling is to raise its arms above its head, not because it is enjoying the sensation but in an attempt to defend itself by accessing a venomous gland on the inside of its elbow.
The slow loris would also be likely to try to bite its handler when tickled but a huge number of them have had their teeth snapped off with pliers or clippers to make them easier to handle. Such mutilation can also lead to infection and even death.
They nocturnal animals are also often in pain because they are nocturnal and not equipped to deal with extended periods in bright daylight.
The Tickling Is Torture campaign is also working to raise awareness of the brutality of the slow loris trade.
The small primates are poached from their natural rainforest habitat to the heat and bright light of the pet markets in Indonesia to be sold, often crammed into tiny cages with the bodies of others that have died on the journey.
The campaign, which has been backed by actor Peter Egan, comedian Jo Brand and TV presenter Chris Packham, is now calling on the public to sign a pledge “not to support the trade in slow lorises by ‘sharing’ or ‘liking’ images of lorises being kept as pets.”
Phily Kennington, leader of the campaign, says: “Unspeakable cruelty is involved in the trade in slow lorises and the public must be made aware of this. Apart from the suffering caused by capturing them from the wild and clipping their teeth, keeping these shy little primates in captivity is inherently cruel.
“Slow lorises travel long distances at night in their hunt for food. They feed on crickets and other live insects, as well as birds’ eggs, fruit and the sap of certain trees. YouTube videos show pet lorises eating rice balls and other unsuitable food, so it’s no surprise that most of them are malnourished and suffering from serious health problems.
“Rihanna recently posted a selfie of herself holding a slow loris and Lady Gaga was intending to use one as a prop in her music video until it bit her – undoubtedly because it wasn’t happy being handled and was trying to protect itself. Using lorises in this way sends out entirely the wrong message - that it’s ok to keep them in captivity and handle them like a domestic pet.
“Our campaign tells people the truth: slow lorises shouldn’t be kept as pets, treated like playthings and tickled.”