The slow loris’ huge eyes and soft fur make it incredibly cute and appealing to humans, but these features also cause people to think the slow loris makes a tempting pet. The exotic pet trade in slow lorises is now one of the biggest reasons behind their decline. The little primates are popular pets in Indonesia, and are frequently smuggled out to Japan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Russia, and even as far as the US to be purchased by unwitting owners. Many of these “pet” slow lorises have their teeth clipped or pulled in order to neutralise their toxic bites, which risks infection and death for the animal. It is also difficult for the average person to replicate the loris’ complex diet, meaning that these “pet” lorises are often malnourished and/or obese. They are also very prone to stress and shock, as well as sensitive to light. And finally, as slow lorises do not breed well in captivity, almost all of the animals purchased as pets have been taken from the wild. As many as 95% of these hapless animals will die of infection or improper care.
It should also be noticed that many “cute” behaviours displayed by “pet” slow lorises are actually misinterpretations by humans; the popular video of the slow loris raising its arms to be tickled, for example, most likely is actually a frightened loris displaying its venom glands as a form of defense, not a pet enjoying human attention.