Slow Loris Kept As Pet Can't Believe He's Going Home To The Forest

He was so nervous but knew exactly what to do 💙

The slow loris peered over the edge of his transport carrier and gazed up at the canopy of trees. After spending months in rehabilitation, he was finally seeing the forest again — and he seemed very happy about it.

Earlier this month, the team at International Animal Rescue (IAR) released this slow loris, as well as 19 others, into a large habituation enclosure set up within a rainforest in West Java, Indonesia. All of them had previously been kept illegally as pets, but their owners had eventually done the right thing and surrendered them to the Conservation of Natural Resources Department (BBKSDA). From there, the slow lorises went to IAR for medical care and rehabilitation.

Slow loris peeking out of carrier

Some of the slow lorises required months, or even years, of rehabilitation. But once the IAR team decided the tiny animals would survive in the wild, they carried them in transport carriers to the habituation area within a section of protected forest.

Slow loris peeking out of transport carrier

“They [will be] monitored for a week or two to ensure they are exhibiting natural wild behavior,” Lis Key, PR and communications manager for IAR, told The Dodo. “The roof of the cage is open, so once the team is happy that the lorises are fit for final release, branches are placed strategically to enable the lorises to climb to complete freedom.”

Slow lorises emerging from cage

Slow lorises are shy creatures, and most of them took a few minutes to get accustomed to the habituation cage before climbing out — but they eventually all emerged.

REscuers helping slow loris get back into the wild

“The lorises returned to the forest like ‘ducks taking to water,’” Key said. “It was clear that they were ready to return to their rightful habitat, although cautious in their departure from the transport crates. It was also obvious that they were perfectly comfortable to be back where they belonged.”

Slow loris crawling out of transport carrier

“When they make their move, they tend to start by moving slowly, but then accelerate up into the branches as they gain in confidence,” Key added. “Even ‘slow’ lorises can show a turn of speed when the mood takes them!”

Rescued slow loris climbing on tree

Sadly, not all slow lorises are able to be released back into the wild. When slow lorises are kept as pets, they’re often psychologically traumatized and lose their ability to express natural behaviors. In some cases, people even clip out a slow loris’ teeth — a painful procedure done without anesthesia — so that the slow lorises are easier to handle and can’t fight back against their owners. However, this leaves these slow-moving animals without any natural defense in the wild, so they’re unreleasable.

Rescued slow loris climbing tree

But so far, these 20 slow lorises, who were all saved before they lost their teeth, are doing extremely well, and IAR expects that they’ll be ready for their permanent release soon.

Rescuer watching slow loris climb a tree

“Watching those beautiful little primates returning to their natural habitat is always the most uplifting part of the rehabilitation program,” Key said. “Seeing them climbing into the trees is the best reward for all the work that is put into their rescue and rehabilitation. We are so grateful to all our supporters who make this work possible and enable us to give these very special creatures a second chance to live freely, as nature intended.”

To help rescue and rehabilitate more slow lorises from the illegal pet trade, you can make a donation to IAR.