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Otti-ly: Female, born at the Zoo on February 5, 2010.
Our pygmy lorises can be seen in the Small Mammal House. They are exhibited on a reverse light cycle in the nocturnal area of the building. This makes it more likely that they will be active when people visit. The lorises tend to stay high in the exhibit, so if you’re looking for them be sure to look up!
Small Mammal House
The name "loris" may be derived from the Dutch word "loeres" which means "sluggish," perhaps describing their slow, deliberate movements. It may also come from the Dutch word "loeris" which means "clown." This could be due to their distinctive facial markings that look a bit like clown makeup.
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Pygmy lorises, also known as lesser slow lorises, are small compact animals with short muzzles and tails, large eyes directed forward and short, dense coats. They are mainly brown or reddish-brown in color with white lines between their eyes, dark markings around their eyes, and a faint dorsal stripe. They are well adapted to climbing trees due to their opposable thumbs. Well developed muscles in their hands and feet give them a strong grip which allows them to grasp branches tightly for long periods without tiring.
Captive individuals have lived to 20 years, although 13-15 is more typical. Little is known about their natural history in the wild.
These small prosimians (primitive primates) are nocturnal and arboreal. The name slow loris refers to their deliberate movements that are very much like a chameleon. They travel along branches moving hand over foot and are very difficult to detect among the dense vegetation. They are not able to leap from branch to branch like the other prosimians. They can, however, strike with great speed when grabbing prey such as insects. They can hold on to a branch with their rear feet, stand up and throw their bodies forward in order to seize prey with both hands.
Pygmy lorises are mainly solitary, although they may live in loose groups that contain several females but only one male. The males are very territorial and mark their area with urine.
The male pygmy loris has a large territory that encompasses that of several females. They contact each other by whistling. They mate once every 12-18 months, and the female will give birth to 1 – 2 offspring after a gestation of 188 days. A baby pygmy loris weighs less than an ounce at birth. The infant loris looks just like a miniature adult. It has a full fur coat, its eyes are open, and it is able to grasp tightly onto its mother’s fur. Although it will be nursed for up to nine months, the baby loris is parked on a tree branch shortly after birth where it stays, hidden in the dense vegetation.
The female will return throughout the day to nurse her baby. The two stay in contact through soft chirps, but the female is always alert to any distress call by her baby and will return to it immediately. Females reach sexual maturity at around 9 months, while in males it’s not until they are 17-20 months old.
In the wild pygmy loris primarily consume forest fruits and insects. At the Zoo, the pygmy lorises are offered a base diet of primate biscuit moistened with juice. The enrichment portion of the diet includes a variety fruits and vegetables, yogurt and insects. The diet is offered over the course of the day to simulate the normal feeding pattern of wild pygmy loris. The insects are offered live and the animals must hunt and capture them for themselves. The hunt for insects promotes animal activity that provides exercise as well as nourishment.
Pygmy lorises are found in Vietnam, Laos and southwest China.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the pygmy loris is listed as Vulnerable.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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