The slow lorises were set to be sold that day.
When police arrived at a home in Majalengka, West Java, a province in Indonesia, they knew what they would find but it’s still tough to get used to handling terrified creatures. In two mesh boxes, police discovered 8 slow lorises hidden with little food scraps and no water, all huddled together with fear.
The man that was found with these creatures had just finished packing them up when officials arrived because he was about to transport them to the buyer. He was arrested and the Javan slow lorises, one of 25 most endangered primates in the world, were confiscated and brought to International Animal Rescue (IAR).
The rescue, which takes in wildlife to rehabilitate them and hopefully release them back to the wildlife, was already swamped with providing care for the 18 slow lorises that were seized from another seller the day before.
Though slow lorises are critically endangered, their adorable appearance is causing them to disappear from the wild at a growing rate. With their huge, loving eyes, they have taken the Internet by storm and sadly, become a hot commodity because want to own them as pets. It’s estimated that three slow lorises are poached from the wild, and that often means babies are taken from their moms and stand little chance of surviving.
“Usually, the mortality rate of confiscated lorises is high,” Christine Rattel, program advisor at IAR, said in a statement. “Traders load the lorises together in small, cramped crates after poaching them from the wild, and this causes them wounds, stress and sometimes serious medical problems that may even result in death.”
It’s a sad fate for such cute creatures, but their normally docile nature is a big sell for exotic animal owners and that’s why these animals are being trafficked more often. What’s worse is that traders are filing down or even removing the teeth of slow lorises so that they can’t bite down on people and inject the poison rub on their teeth from a gland in their arm. They remove each tooth without anesthetic, making the process not only inhumane but extremely painful for the now defenseless creature. Alan Knight, CEO of IAR, said that most slow lorises fall sick after their teeth are filed down or removed and usually die.
“Up to 80 percent of lorises captured from the wild do not even make it to the markets or the buyers, which means that for one slow loris that someone might buy illegally and keep as a pet, four more will have died in the process,” Rattel said.
Fortunately for these rescued slow lorises, most of them have survived this traumatic event and even had their teeth full intact, meaning they may be released back to the wild after being rehabilitated. Not every rescued slow loris, including one newborn baby, survived this horrible situation, but the IAR considers every rescue to be a victory.
IAR is working with police and government officials to stop the online trafficking of slow lorises, which makes them much more accessible to buyers around the world. Thankfully, more countries are starting to criminalize wildlife trafficking and the ownership of exotic animals, making it more difficult for buyers and sellers to continue the trade.
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