Rescued at IGI airport from a man’s underwear, slow loris spends lonely days in Delhi zoo
In September 2012, three male passengers en route from Bangkok to Dubai were held with the primate at Delhi airport. The lone primate, around 6-7 inches tall and weighing around 200 grams, is in the 2X1.5 feet cage for the last two years.Updated: May 07, 2017, 23:47 IST
A slow loris, which had hit the headlines around five years ago after being rescued from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport, is now spending its days alone in a cage in the zoo hospital. Three Dubai-bound passengers were trying to smuggle the primate, one of them having tucked it into his underwear.
The lone primate, around 6-7 inches tall and weighing around 200 grams, is in the 2X1.5 feet cage for the last two years. Although these nocturnal creatures are considered to be a solitary species, family groups have occasionally been found together.
As slow lorises sleep during the day and do all their activities at night, which include feeding and moving, this loris has to cover his eyes throughout the day even while sleeping to protect them from the harsh daylight.
The story dates back to September 2012 when three male passengers en route from Bangkok to Dubai were held with the primate at Delhi airport. “It came to us in the year 2014-15 and since then it has been living in the zoo. We tried to put in an enclosure but then it had to be shifted to a cage as there were some problems,” said a senior zoo official.
A source at the zoo said that the problem was rats. When the animal was put in an enclosure with birds, rats started stealing his food consisting mostly of fruits, eggs and bread dipped in honey, but they also disturbed him mostly during day.
“Slow loris is a nocturnal animal. They come out only at night and sleep during the day. The rats disturbed him a lot during the day. So we decided to shift him to a cage so that we can scare away rats,”
As slow lorises spend their lives on tree tops in dense tropical forests, zoo keepers have been kind enough though to place a twig inside the cage to make it feel ‘homely’. A rag, which falls short to cover the entire cage, has been placed on the top of the cage to provide some extra protection from day light.
“Even though it is placed in the lobby area of the zoo hospital during the day, we shift the cage to the surgery room at night. We keep its food in the cage and lock the hospital. It feeds only during the night,” said an official.
The Delhi zoo lacks any special enclosures such as a ‘Nocturnal House’ to keep nocturnal animals including Loris, Civets and Owls. The zoo’s master plan, however, has such options and hence they could be planned in the future, sources said.
“As the illegal trade in wildlife is gradually rising and such animals like the slow loris are in high demand, it is high time that every zoo should have such facilities. Animals when confiscated are usually sent to zoos,” said Shekhar Kumar Niraj former head of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, in India.
Zoo officials said that they are looking for a perfect enclosure so that the animal could be shifted. But as of now most enclosures are occupied and there are no such enclosures where the animal can feel homely without being disturbed by rats.
About slow loris
- It belongs to the monkey family. They are nocturnal and arboreal in nature.
- Habitat: Native to countries of east and South-east Asia, including India.
- Generally found high in the trees in tropical rainforests, preferring warm, lowland areas below 1300 meters (4265 ft.) in elevation.
- Diet: Fruits, insects, small birds.
- Threats: Illegal pet trade, hunting and habitat destruction