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Poisonous Primate That Bit Lady Gaga Can Be Found In Chicago

By JoshMogerman in News on Mar 8, 2014 8:30PM

Slow loris [Wikipedia]

Poisonous primate bites Lady Gaga.

The real life story, set off by a New York Post Page Six item, had the entertainment press atwitter last month: mega-star meets “the cutest creature on the planet” and wackiness ensues.

But, as is often the case, the throwaway tabloid story masks a much bigger issue.

Slow lorises are cute.

They are poisonous, though. (The only poisonous mammals on the planet—they secrete toxins from glands on their elbows which are taken into their mouth and mixed with saliva to create a doozy of a bite).

And they are severely endangered.

Their habitat in Southeast Asia is under assault and disappearing rapidly. But its those wide-eyed anime-meets-teddy bear looks have fueled the illegal animal trade that yanks the primitive primates out of forests and into homes where they make remarkably bad pets. Their numbers are dwindling in the wild.

But they can be found in Chicagoland. Pygmy slow lorises can be seen in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House.

The animals are part of a muliti-institutional breeding program for desperately endangered animals called a Species Survival Program. Zoos are working to better understand the creatures, so they can ensure the long-term existence of slow lorises by building up the population. That way, we can all be confident the creatures can be found in more than just music videos.