A Loris is not a Lorax

October 18, 2013 § 2 Comments

The pop singer Rihanna recently stirred up a lot of commotion when she posed for this picture with a loris in Thailand …

rhianna and the loris

The loris — more exactly, a “slow loris” — is the creature perched on the lady’s right shoulder. Rihanna, for those of you who, like I, are abysmally ignorant of pop culture, is the lady doing the self-pic with a creature perched on her right shoulder.  

A loris is a primate — some species of which are threatened, and all are protected — that lives in the rain forests of Southeast Asia. Despite some of their less attractive attributes, which include having a venomous bite (the only primate with such a skill, except for some lawyers) and inability of the young to clean themselves of fecal and other noisome matter, the cuddly little critters are in high demand as “living toys” due to their slow, deliberate movements, expressive eyes, soft fur, and docile behavior when handled.

The only natural predators of lorises, other than snakes, orangutans, and some raptors, are humans who hunt them illegally for their pethood. Poachers snatch baby lorises from the wild, killing their mothers to take the young. The young lorises then have their teeth pulled out with pliers or other implements, not only to make them more appealing to pet owners, but also, and most importantly, less likely to deliver a poisonous bite. Infections from the pulled teeth kill many of the captive baby animals. Since the lorises are not able to breed in captivity, the poachers have to take the young creatures to meet demand, which is considerable.

There are all sorts of international treaties and laws and federal statutes that ban the importation of lorises and other animals into the US. But if, somehow, one found its way into the Magnolia State, what would its legal status be under state law? Mississippi is, after all, a fairly laissez faire jurisdiction when it comes to many of people’s personal preferences in such matters.

Well, turns out that Mississippi, like most states, does regulate some animals, primates included, as you can divine from this quasi-helpful map:


Mississippi regulates “Animals inherently dangerous to humans,” and makes it illegal to import, transfer, sell, purchase or possess them, except by permit or exception (e.g., zoos, transient circuses, research facilities, et al.). MCA 49-8-5, 49-8-7.

The loris, however, is not included among the proscribed creatures. Among the primates covered by Mississippi law are gibbons, orangutans, chimpanzees, siamangs, gorillas, macaques, mandrills, drills, baboons, and Gelada baboons. No loris. Not even a slow loris.

FYI, also restricted in our fair state are: wolves, jackals, dingoes, wolf-cross-breeds, maned wolves, red dogs, African hunting dogs, bears, wolverines, hyenas, lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, snow leopards, cheetahs, cougars, elephants, hippopotami, and African buffalo.

Caveat: Do not confuse the loris with the lorax, although both creatures are closely related to environmental and conservational concerns. The lorax was exhaustively researched by Theodor Geisel, and was found to be benign, non-venomous (except perhaps to the logging industry), and free of disgusting habits. Oh, and the lorax is not an “animal inherently dangerous to humans” under Mississippi law.


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§ 2 Responses to A Loris is not a Lorax

  • Man, have I become an “expert” in MS law on inherently dangerous animals! I represent the Collins Zoo, and have become well versed in the statutes and beaurocratic (sp?) regs on wildlife. I never knew before that when I was a kid and we had a pet squirrel or coon I was a law breaker.

  • Debbie Halford says:

    Where do you get this stuff? Hahaha. I’m amused AND impressed!

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