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.