Pygmy Slow Loris Twins are Born at the Lake Superior Zoo, Again!

DULUTH, Minn. – For the second year in a row, Pygmy Slow Loris twins are born at the Lake Superior Zoo. It happened a couple of weeks ago and came as a complete surprise to staff, as a guest was the one to discovery the enclosure babies.

“Because they are so small, they’re nocturnal, they like to spend most of the days up in the rafters or the tight corners, in the rocks and crannies. They don’t show super visible pregnancy. So, since we’re not doing blood tests on them every single week, there’s not a lot of ways we can be sure they are pregnant. So, it came as a total surprise to us, but a very good surprise to us,” Lake Superior Zoo Animal Keeper, Daniel Johnson says.

Considered an endangered species due to predation and habitat destruction, there are only 42 Pygmy Slow Lorises, six of which are now living in Duluth, in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or (AZA) system which spans across North America.

The Lake Superior Zoo works with the AZA to help breed these small primates with the goal of re-populating them and eventually moving some population back to their native range.

“They are part of what we call a Species Survival Plan here in the United States. So, we work and communicate with other zoos across the nation as part of the AZA and we work together to help breed these individuals to keep watch of the genetics to move them around to facilities so we can pair them with individuals who’ll make a good match,” Johnson says.

Pygmy Slow Lorises are quite unique, as they are the only species of venomous primate in the world.

“It’s not the same as a snake for example, they don’t possess a venom gland behind their teeth. They actually present a special gland on their elbows on their arms that they use for scent marking. They actually communicate largely through scent marking; they don’t make a lot of sounds or vocalizations. What they’ll do is they’ll lick up the oil that is secreted by this gland and once that oil mixes with their saliva it actually becomes an incredibly potent venom,” Johnson says.

So, what would happen if one of these cute creatures were to bite a human?

“It would be somewhat similar to anaphylactic shock; if someone who’s very allergic to bees would be stung, their face would get severally swollen, they’re airway would get constricted. So, it would be somewhat similar in that sense,” Johnson says.

Staff at the zoo don’t know the gender of the two babies yet and their names will be determined once it is taken to a vote.

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