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How Rihanna Accidentally Got Two Animal Traffickers Arrested

How Rihanna Accidentally Got Two Animal Traffickers Arrested

While vacationing on the resort island of Phuket, Thailand, R&B singer Rihanna stopped to pose for a picture with what she thought was just any other strange local pet. It turns out that the singer actually took a photo of herself with a slow loris, an endangered species whose adorable looks have put it in danger of extinction.

It’s true that the small primate is ridiculously cute — unfortunately, the adorable photos and videos of slow lorises on the internet leave out the dark side of the animals’ story. Pet lorises are usually ripped from their mothers at a young age and held in crowded, cramped cages before being illegally sold in Asian markets. The slow loris is equipped with venomous fangs, and its bite can prove disabling or even fatal to humans. The animals you see in photos like Rihanna’s have almost always had their teeth ripped out or clipped off to keep them from biting tourists and would-be owners — opening the animals up to infections, debilitating pain and often, death. Even when they survive, the nocturnal animals often live their lives stressed, blinded and disoriented when humans try to interact with them in daylight.

While Rihanna’s photo immediately racked up about 200,000 likes, many of Rihanna’s fans also reacted with anger and disbelief when she posted the photo, slamming the artist for glorifying the exotic animal trade. The Thai police were apparently keeping tabs on her travels in Phuket, because the very next day two people in the area were arrested for illegal possession of the protected animals, and are now facing a $1,300 fine and up to four years in prison. Two lorises were confiscated at the scene.

Unfortunately, many times these traffickers don’t end up seeing justice. While every country the slow loris naturally occurs in has laws on the books protecting them, the laws often aren’t enforced. In fact, one study found that law enforcement officials in Cambodia often participate in the trade themselves. Apart from simple corruption, another problem is that there’s often nowhere for the animals to go once they’re rescued. Lorises with clipped teeth can’t be released back into the wild, and there’s only so much space in for them in rescue centers.

Locals say that in Phuket, any arrests of loris sellers are rare. In an interview with the Phuket News, a local official, Veerawit Kruesombat, described the raid as “just window dressing,” accusing the police of accepting bribes to overlook illegal trading and predicting that everything would “blow over” within a month, once the celebrity was gone.

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Photo credit: Instagram

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152 comments

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8:01AM PDT on May 27, 2014

thanks for sharing

11:40PM PDT on Oct 27, 2013

SAD TO KNOW PEOPLE AREN'T THINKING ABOUT HOW WE TRULY AFFECT THE ANIMALS LIKE WE DO.

5:46AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

seems ignorance does sometimes pay off...its a shame that it takes celebrities and media attention to bring bout change. More should be done to protect these animals!

5:22AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

at least there were some arrests. but I agree only because the photo was of a celebrity

4:21PM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

At least something good came out of photo tho sounds like it's just temporary to appease those who are upset about the cruel treatment of lorises.

10:17AM PDT on Sep 28, 2013

It's interesting that something as innocent as a simple picture taking ended up helping catch and arrest these two men. However, this kind of thing (picture taking with exotic, endangered species) happens on a daily basis & had it been any "ordinary tourist" taking picture with this cute little loris, i'm sure, it had not received any attention at all :(
Sadly, there are way too many people that go unpunished for the crime they commit against innocent beings they so greedily exploit and subject to great suffering.
There is no punishment severe enough for these wildlife criminals!

12:16PM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

ty

8:31AM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

People who pose with these animals are just ignorant but thankfully the publicity will help to highlight what is going on so it had a good outcome at least

11:11PM PDT on Sep 26, 2013

Anyone who strives to earn notoriety through their association with captive animals is, by virtue of their actions, complicit in trafficking -- whether that animal be a slow loris or a 7-year-old sex slave. When will people learn how quickly desire devolves into pandering?

3:43PM PDT on Sep 26, 2013

Some idiot sees a "cute little animal", has absolutely no idea what it is, how to treat it, feed it, shelter it, etc. but ABSOLUTELY JUST HAS TO HAVE ONE because after all they are human and it is, after all, just another disposable animal so here we have another poor, innocent animal headed towards destruction. And the bad thing, it's not just one animal that will suffer because usually to get the baby, they'll have to kill the mother. People, wake up please. Do some investigation, research into your wants - not needs - before you set another species onto the path of extinction. Florida is a good example of people not doing their homework into a species. Animals brought here with no natural enemies, let loose into the swamp when they grew too large or the owners became afraid or bored with them are now a natural disaster becoming worse by the year. I sure as hell do not want to walk out my back door one day to encounter a python or worse a King Cobra. I am too old to even try to outrun either.

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