The video showing a slow loris being tickled has had over five million views. Why? Because the animal's reaction - in human eyes - looks like he is enjoying it: It raises its arms above its head as though it was fun. What is actually happening is something completely different: It is trying to reach the venomous glands on the inside of its elbows to protect itself and if it still had teeth, it would bite.
A threat to the species
Home to the tropical and subtropical regions of South and South East Asia, slow lorises are shy, nocturnal animals. Poaching is one of the biggest threats the mammals face. To meet the demand for slow loris pets, they are being hunted and caught illegally, teeth clipped off without anesthetics and sold as pets in markets or in the streets.
There are five species, the Bengal, Bornean, Pygmy, Greater and Javan slow loris. The latter is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, while the other four are vulnerable; It is due to the illegal wildlife trade - fueled by the videos millions of people watch and share on the internet - that the species is now endangered and millions of animals need rescuing from the cruel environments they live in.
International Animal Rescue has started a campaign called Tickling Is Torture to raise awareness of the truth behind the slow loris tickling videos and explaining that they aren't enjoying the treatment but rather trying to protect themselves from this torture.
Dick Culbert / Flickr / CC BY 2.0