The Downside of Cuteness

The goggle-eyed, photogenic slow loris is paying a high price for its comical and cuddly appearance; people want to get their hands on one. Pet fads are nothing new - from the spike in Chihuahua sales after the Taco Bell® marketing campaign of the 1990s to the more recent run on “Spiderman” lizards (Agama mwanzae), whose skin coloration closely resembles that of the superhero’s garb. As a unique pet, the slow loris has long been sought after, despite a ban on its international trade mandated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Five species of slow loris (also known as “night-monkeys”) are native to South and Southeast Asia. A marked resurgence in their popularity has been observed after several YouTube videos showing adorable pet lorises went viral. (The pet trade in these animals is anything but adorable - slow lorises often have their teeth yanked out before being sold.) The videos are igniting demand the world over, much to this diminutive primate’s peril.

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