6 min read

These Animals Almost Lost Their Lives — Thanks To Facebook

After being sold as pets on Facebook, these little animals are finally getting the help they need.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

The three Bengal slow lorises and a palm civet kitten were purchased on Facebook and kept as illegal pets. When a friend of their owners found out, she convinced them to turn the animals over to Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT).

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

They were rescued just in time. At least one of the lorises has missing fingers; it's unclear whether he lost them before or during his time as a pet. Another photo shows one with a bloodied arm that appears to have happened more recently.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Still another photo shows a tiny loris wrist with what appears to be a constriction injury, likely from the trap that caught him - all four animals were captured from the wild.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

The palm civet kitten is malnourished and underweight, WFFT wrote, and should likely still be with his mother; in many cases, wild mothers are killed so their babies can be captured and sold into captivity.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Their rescue is a harsh reminder of the realities of the illegal pet trade. Lorises in particular are funneled into the pet trade in devastating numbers; they often have their teeth cruelly clipped off and end up malnourished and abused.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

And WFFT said that civets, like the little kitten they just rescued, could soon be in for similar treatment.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

"Common palm civets are increasingly being kept as pets," WFFT wrote. "They are currently listed as Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN Red list of Threatened Species but this is likely to change with the increased capture of wild individuals for the pet trade, bushmeat trade and for the production of kopi luwak [civet coffee]."

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

While Asia's thriving wildlife trade has a firm foundation in local markets and roadside animal vendors, it's also spilled over into the online marketplace. These animals, like many others, were purchased through a social network; a 2014 investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare found tens of thousands of exotic animals and animal parts available for sale online in just 16 countries.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Even in the U.S., a quick Facebook search for "exotic animals for sale" turns up dozens - likely hundreds - of groups where people can swap monkeys, zebras, wild cats and any number of poorly regulated exotic pets. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Of course, that's a much bigger issue to tackle - and for now, WFFT is just worried about helping these little guys recover from their ordeal. They're currently being treated at the group's wildlife hospital.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

"They will be suitable release candidates if they make full recoveries from the injuries sustained," WFFT said of the lorises, while noting that the civet kitten is young but very aggressive. "We will have to see how it goes over the next few days."

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

If you'd like to help care for these animals and similar cases that WFFT treats, you can make a donation here.