Latest news:

Pygmy slow loris

Scientific name: Nycticebus pygmaeusPygmy slow loris

Country: Cambodia, China, Laos, Vietnam

Continent: Asia

Diet: Insects - insectivore, fruits - frugivore, slugs & snails - molluscivore.

Food & feeding: Omnivorous

Habitats: Tropical dry forest

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Relatives: Bushbaby, slender loris

Description: Their round head, small ears, short sturdy arms and legs and only a stumpy tail make them look more like teddy bears than primates. They grow to between 18 and 21 cms in length and have virtually no tail. The fur is short, thick and woolly, like other nocturnal primates. The front teeth are arranged to provide a comb-like structure called a 'tooth comb'. This is used to clean the fur and scrape resin from the bark of trees. In addition to a tongue they also have an 'under tongue' containing hardened points of horn. This second 'fleshy comb' is used to clean the tooth comb. The second toe has a 'grooming claw' for reaching the parts that the tooth comb can't reach. When sleeping, the pygmy slow loris curls up into a tight ball but remains clinging to its branch. The second finger is very short and the thumbs will spread very wide allowing an exceptionally large grip. The hands and feet are strong and muscular with well developed pads enabling them to hold on very tightly to branches.

Lifestyle: Their nocturnal lifestyle allows them to avoid competing with the other primates that share their habitat. They walk slowly but surely along branches, carefully putting one foot in front of the other until they sight a possible meal such as an insect. When food is sighted, the loris grips the branch tightly with its hind feet while holding its body and front legs upright and away from the branch. It then lunges forward with its body and front legs, grasping the prey in the tight grip of the front paws. During the day, the loris spends its time curled up in a tree hole or clump of dense vegetation.

Family & friends: Lorises are solitary, coming together only to mate.

Keeping in touch: Female lorises communicate to males in the mating season using a series of whistles. Males detect females who are ready to mate by sniffing urine scent marks left on branches. Young lorises may call to their mothers in a series of clicks and squeaks if they are in distress.

Growing up: A female loris gives birth to one or two infants every 12 to18 months after a gestation period of around 190 days. For the first few days, the young loris clings to the belly of its mother. Once the infant is big enough, the female will hide the young loris in a thicket of vegetation while she feeds. Eventually the young loris is able to follow its parent while she feeds. They are nursed for up to nine months.

Conservation news: The Vietnam war very nearly wiped out this species of loris; the forest in which it lives was extensively cut down, burned or defoliated. While military action in its home range has ceased, destruction of forests for agricultural and development purposes continues. There is a captive breeding programme which Bristol Zoo Gardens is part of.

The name 'loris' is thought to be derived from the Dutch word 'loeres' meaning 'sluggish'; or perhaps from the term used by old Holland seafarers 'loeris' which means 'clown'.