Slow Loris

Slow Loris – The Power of Cultural Belief

Slow Loris illustrated by Ravenari


Gatekeeping, symbolism relating to the heavens and the afterlife, having a confused relationship with good and evil, using toxicity to defend yourself, the power of cultural belief, people may be taking advantage of you, dangerous consequences to choosing to stay around dangerous people, the freeze response, protecting yourself through going still, using great deliberation and thought before making decisions, the power of silence, preferring to keep to yourself, the power of the night, needing a balanced diet, the symbolism of twins.

General Description:

Slow lorises comprise of five species of nocturnal primate found in South and Southeast Asia. They are closely related to pottos and slender lorises, as well as Madagascan lemurs. They are found in the rainforests, bamboo groves and even some disturbed habitats like plantations of the tropics and subtropics. They have more vertebrae than other similar primates, which gives them greater flexibility which suits their arboreal lifestyle. They are omnivorous, consuming fruits, tree gum and sap, vegetation and small animals. They have a very low metabolism, much lower than the mammalian average, and similar to sloths. It is likely this is because of the effort necessary in expelling toxins from their food; they are able to eat food that is poisonous to other animals, including humans. They forage on their own, but will sometimes sleep in small groups.

They vary a great deal by colour from species to species, and have a notable round head and large eyes. Their hands and feet are capable of a very strong grasp. Their eyes give them stereo vision, and cope well in low-light conditions. Unusually for mammals, they have a toxic bite. Their bites are notoriously painful. Their toxic saliva is applied to offspring via grooming, to protect them from predation. They communicate through scent markers. Males are territorial. They vocalise rarely, usually when breeding, disturbed or making friendly calls to one another. They have notable slow movements, that appear to be made with great deliberation. They are predated upon by raptors, snakes and larger primates. They are likely eaten by other predators too, though this is unconfirmed. They freeze and become docile when threatened. They will also cover their faces.

In some folklore, they are believed to have the power to ward off evil and cure wounds. In Indonesia they go by the term ‘shy one,’ and in Acehnese they are known as the ‘wind monkey,’ due to their ability to escape silently. Some indigenous nations in Borneo believe that slow lorises were gatekeepers for the heavens, and that one waited for each person in the afterlife. In Malaysia, it is said that the slow loris covers its face with its hands because it is always seeing ghosts. Some Cambodians believe that slow lorises can heal broken bones immediately. All are Vulnerable or Endangered. They are threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation, slow growth rates, poaching for the pet trade (where they often perish from the process of having their teeth removed or cut; and many more die in transit) and traditional medicine. They breed poorly in captivity.