Social media highlights social misery of slow lorises

Nekaris, K. A. I., Musing, L., Vazquez, A. G., & Donati, G. (2015). Is Tickling Torture? Assessing Welfare towards Slow Lorises (Nycticebus spp.) within Web 2.0 Videos. Folia Primatologica; International Journal of Primatology, 86(6), 534–51

Internet videos of slow lorises have been on the rise recently, with many viewers ‘liking’ what they see. Unfortunately, however, what the public see is in fact welfare at its worst, with many slow lorises suffering in captive conditions.

This study reviewed the growing trend of internet videos which feature slow lorises.  The authors sought to determine whether the public perception of the videos was aligned with the captive welfare conditions on view. To do this they investigated the conditions in which the animals were kept and scored each video on the presence or absence of criteria, in accordance to the Five Freedoms. In order to understand the public perception, they then compared these conditions with the number of viewers, or numbers of likes, of each video.

100% of videos viewed had poor welfare conditions  

All of the videos viewed (n=100) violated at least one of Five Freedoms. Furthermore, nearly one-third of the videos (31%) failed to meet criteria needed to fulfil any of the Five Freedoms. Evidence of violation from the Five Freedoms included evidence of malnutrition, human handling, pain, social isolation and unnatural environments – all of which are well-known stressors for slow lorises.

Unfortunately, the results also showed that the public were more inclined to like videos which showed stressful conditions. For example, 87% of videos were filmed in daylight, yet as the slow loris is a nocturnal animal this would cause them considerable stress and discomfort.  However, these videos received a high number of ‘likes’ from viewers.  This suggests that the public seem unaware of the consequences of unacceptable conditions that slow lorises are kept in.

This study signifies that not even the basic needs of the slow lorises are being met and they are all suffering to some extent. For these reasons, the authors concluded that slow lorises should not be kept as pet animals.  

World Animal Protection’s view

This study highlights the suffering caused by keeping slow lorises in captivity. World Animal Protection believes that as slow lorises are wild animals, they belong in the wild. Our research shows that this is the only place they can have a good life, exhibit their natural behaviours and be free from the deprivation and suffering inherent with captivity.