If you’ve ever seen the YouTube viral hit “Tickling Slow Loris,” in which an adorable wide-eyed creature throws his arms up while being tickled by his loving owner, then you probably thought that the slow loris was the cutest thing ever and maybe even wished you had one of your own for a pet.
What you may not be aware of is that the slow loris, which is the world’s only venomous primate, is at risk of extinction, largely due to an illegal pet trade that, according to a BBC documentary, mangles the animals, removing their front teeth and clipping of their venomous elbow patches. Conservationists are calling for YouTube to ban these adorable videos of domesticated slow lorises because they believe that these videos are fueling the illegal pet trade.
Anna Nekaris, an Oxford Brookes University anthropologist that hosted a BBC documentary called ’Jungle Gremlins of Java’ about the illegal pet trade in Jakarta, says that she has been asking YouTube to take down videos of the slow loris for a few years now. YouTube’s community guidelines prohibit animal abuse and the video site responded to Anna’s claims by telling her that videos that violate this guideline are generally removed within an hour. Apparently they disagree that these slow loris videos exhibit “abuse,” and therefore they have not been taken down.
John R. Platt of Scientific American reports that, “the organization International Animal Rescue Indonesia has posted an online petition asking YouTube to remove clips of captive lorises.” The petitions states:
“Although the videos show a cute, furry animal which seems to enjoy being tickled or playing with an umbrella, the truth is very different. The slow loris trade is not only illegal but also cruel. Teeth are broken off using pliers to prevent the toxic loris bite. Many animals die either during transport or in captivity, while population numbers in the wild are dwindling and the slow loris is on the brink of extinction.
“Videos portraying the slow loris as a cute, furry pet increase the demand for slow lorises, fueling the trade. Slow loris behaviours which are caused by stress or fear are misinterpreted as funny. YouTube has many slow loris videos on the website which show the slow loris as a pet, some of which have been watched millions of times. Despite requests to have these videos taken down, YouTube refuses to see the animal suffering in the slow loris clips.”
Do you think that YouTube should remove slow loris clips from their site? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.