SINGAPORE - It has a permanent look of surprise on its face, but this slow loris was probably really afraid when it found itself surrounded by a concrete jungle instead of the lush greenery she is used to.
Earlier this month, officers from the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres) were notified of a slow loris stranded in a multi-storey carpark at Yishun Central. The resident who found the nocturnal animal recognised it immediately and knew that it was not in a place it belonged.
One of Singapore's critically endangered creatures, slow lorises are usually found deep in the nature reserves of Singapore where they enjoy a diet of fruit, sap, nectar, bird eggs and insects.
In a video uploaded on Acres' YouTube account, the slow loris can be seen perched on the ledge three storeys above ground.
With thick gloves to protect himself from the the animal's strong and toxic bite, an Acres officer grabs hold of it and brings it carefully to safety.
Manager of Acres' wildlife department, Kalai, told AsiaOne in a phone interview that the Sunda slow loris, which is native to Singapore, is usually not found near residential areas.
So how exactly did this "young adult" female slow loris get to a carpark in Yishun Central?
Kalai says there are just two possible scenarios. One possibility was that it had been sold as part of the illegal pet trade and escaped from captivity, while the other possibility was that it could have accidentally 'hitched' a ride out of the nature reserve on the car of an unsuspecting visitor.
If the small animal was indeed smuggled into the heartlands illegally, it could have gone through lots of hardship and would have difficulty adjusting in the wild, Kalai said.
To ensure it was ready to be released back into the wild, Acres officers fed the slow loris a small piece of guava from a height. When the slow loris reached for its treat, it revealed a lovely set of teeth, including its canines. This, Kalai says, was an important sign as illegal traders usually clip the teeth of slow lorises to prevent them from biting. This cruel action also makes it almost impossible for the animal to adapt back to the wild.
After spending just over a day with Acres, the slow loris found in Yishun was microchipped and determined fit for re-entry into its natural habitat.
Video footage shows Acres officers opening up its cage in an undisclosed forested area. While it seemed slightly confused at first, the slow loris soon noticed the greenery around and began to crawl out (slowly, of course) into its new home.
Hopefully this furry little animal gets to enjoy the rest of its days roaming free in the reserves, undisturbed by human activities. Remember - illegal trade causes these exotic animals lifelong pain and suffering. They might be cute, but they don't belong in the confines of your home.