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'Cute-and-cuddly' primates from Indonesia sold illegally as pets

TRAFFIC

This slow loris was found for sale at an outdoor market in Bogor, Indonesia.

A rare primate from Indonesia sought by some as an exotic pet is still being sold publicly even though that's illegal, a wildlife monitoring group reported Tuesday.

Dozens of slow lorises were seen for sale over the last two weeks in animal markets, shopping malls and even a wildlife exhibition ostensibly held to raise awareness about Indonesia's rich biodiversity, TRAFFIC said in a statement.

"Ranking high on the cute-and-cuddly scale, slow lorises have long been in demand as exotic pets," added TRAFFIC, which is funded by the conservation group WWF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


While not well known, slow lorises did get some attention in 2009 when a YouTube video of one being tickled went viral -- opening a brief window where conservation groups campaigned to protect the species, which are slow-moving, nocturnal by nature and usually stay in tree tops far from humans.

But since then, little has improved for the furry animal with large eyes.

"Authorities need to clean up these markets and Indonesia’s reputation as a major center of illegal wildlife trade," said Chris Shepherd, deputy regional director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

"The openness of the slow loris trade highlights the fact that having one of the region’s best wildlife protection laws and promising to protect species is not enough -- there must be stronger enforcement in Indonesia and the public should stop supporting the illegal wildlife trade," he added.

Slow lorises are also found in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, but their populations have declined due to harvesting for the pet trade and habitat loss, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

TRAFFIC

This slow loris was for sale at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia.

"The teeth are often pulled, resulting in infection and/or death," the IUCN says of those lorises sold as pets. "If animals survive, lack of teeth makes reintroduction (to the wild) impossible."

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