Photo in the News: Baby Loris Beefs Up in Zoo Nursery

Baby loris photo
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July 31, 2006—Imagine the weight of three U.S. quarters in your hand.

That's how much this pygmy slow loris, an ancient primate species, weighed when it was brought last month to the nursery of the San Diego Zoo in California.

After giving birth to the 0.6-ounce (17-gram) male at the zoo on June 24, the mother didn't take proper care of him. Zoo officials intervened and placed the big-eyed baby in the nursery's incubator.

Mother and son have since been reintroduced and now spend a few hours together each day, says zoo spokesperson Andrew Circo. The initial lack of care may be due to the female being a first-time mom, he says, but now she's starting to get the hang of it, and the baby has beefed up to a whopping 2.12 ounces (60 grams).

The pygmy slow loris is a rare species found in Vietnam, Laos, and parts of Cambodia. About 72,000 of the creatures live in the wild, and 183 are in captivity.

The nocturnal animals spend their days curled up in tree holes or clumps of dense vegetation. At night they come out to dine on fruit, insects, small mammals, and birds (photos: nighttime creatures of the Southeast Asian rain forest).

As adults, the loris species only tips the scales at 1 pound (0.45 kilogram). But don't let its diminutive size fool you. If threatened, the loris can pack a poisonous bite.

"They have little pads on the inside of their elbows that release a toxin," Circo explained. "If they lick that, then bite in self-defense, they actually are able to deliver the toxin via their teeth."

The toxin isn't believed to be harmful to humans.

—Maryann Mott

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