Everyone knows that 87% of the Internet is cute animal videos, which is totally real and not a thing I just made up to demonstrate a point. Perhaps the cutest of all is the "slow loris," a nocturnal primate indigenous to Asia.
You might have "awww-ed" at the the wide-eyed mammal in one of many videos it's featured in online. But would you still find it adorable if you knew these viral hits were essentially animal torture?
What these videos don't show is the shady underworld of the slow loris pet trade, which is pushing the species to the brink of extinction. International Animal Rescue produced an eye-opening video that includes all the disturbing details.
First, poachers steal slow lorises from their homes and sell them on the street. The animals' teeth are then removed without an anesthetic to prevent humans from the slow loris' venomous bite.
This painful procedure can cause infections and sometimes death.
Slow lorises aren't meant to be pets, and they suffer as such. For one thing, they're nocturnal, so bright lights harm their eyes. And because they thrive on fruits and insects in the wild, they often suffer from malnutrition as pets.
Worst of all, viral videos promote cruelty toward these animals. You might be familiar with a video of a slow loris being "tickled" and raising its arms.
This isn't because it's excited to be pet — it's terrified. In fact, the slow loris here is raising its arms to gather venom as a self-defense mechanism.
If you're as disturbed by these videos as I am, there are ways to help. You can visit TickleIsTorture.org to donate and/or sign a pledge to end the practice. You can even virtually adopt a slow loris on the International Animal Rescue
If you're a social media maven, feel free to spread the word, using the hashtag #TicklingIsTorture.