Slow Loris Smuggler Arrested

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    From Japan Today:

    About 40 slow lorises — a protected species under an international treaty — were smuggled to Japan by a Japanese man and seized by customs officials at Narita International Airport earlier this month, customs office sources said Friday. All of the animals were alive when seized but about a dozen died later, the sources said.

    The animals were found in small boxes when the 38-year-old man arrived on a plane from Bangkok on May 2, the sources said. The man told a customs official he was asked to bring to Japan in by someone else. Slow lorises, which live in rain forests in Southeast Asia, sell for around 100,000 to 400,000 yen each in Japan.

    They might look cute, but according one researcher, they might not be the best house pets money can buy:

    Having worked extensively with the lorises for the last couple years I am absolutely smitten with them. However, while they have the face of those cute and cuddly gremlins, they have the attitude of the evil, after-midnight flipside. With disproportionately huge and sharp canine teeth (very fang-like) and powerful jaw muscles their bites alone can be absolutely agonising. However, the pain is compounded by factors beyond the simple tissue trauma caused by the mechanical damage from the powerful jaws. The lorises are actually toxic! On the inside of their elbows, sebaceous tissue secretes a toxin (like sweat pores, which is rather fitting since the toxic mixture smells remarkably like sweaty socks). The lorises take it into their mouth and deliver it in the bite. It is not the upper and lower jaw vampire like canine teeth that deliver this toxin. It is the innocuously small teeth in the front of the lower jaw which slope forward and help conduct the saliva into the wound. One time I was working with the large lorises in the research collection and a visiting vet student from Belgium saw me putting on big thick gloves. She asked why I was doing that and I told her about the viciousness of the lorises. She looked at them and said that they couldn’t hurt anyone and besides, it wouldn’t be any fun to use gloves. I raised an eyebrow and said ‘be my guest’. Two hours later, with her hand still painfully throbbing merrily away despite the many ice packs on it, I asked her if she was having fun yet!

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