Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Horton Plains Slender Loris

You will never believe what happened!  A cute little animal with a big, long name was found again after everybody thought it was extinct for 60 years!  How cool is that?

I had never even heard of a loris, but it's a primate, just like monkeys and lemurs and humans are primates.  There are other kinds of lorises, but the one I'm going to tell you about is the Horton Plains Slender Loris.  The Horton Plains are in the country of Sri Lanka, which in case you forgot your geography lessons, is located just below the tip of India.  Part of the Horton Plains is a national park.  I found some photos of it, and it looks like a very pretty place.

But over the years, a lot of this area got cleared out so that people could make farms and tea plantations, and this made it so that the Horton Plains Slender Loris didn't have very many nice places to live.  Because where they like to live is in forests that are way up high, and these forests are called "cloud forests."  And even though there are some cloud forests left, there is no way for the lorises to get from one patch of forest to another one.  So they can't easily go out and find other lorises to mate with.

Anyway, after the Horton Plains Slender Loris spent 60 years supposedly being extinct, some researchers thought they saw some lorises in 2002.  So the Zoological Society of London plus some people from Sri Lankan universities went out looking for the lorises, but they had trouble finding them because they are really small, like only about 8 inches long and they only weigh 11 ounces.  But they have big, red eyes like space aliens, and their eyes reflect light, so that's how the scientists finally found them.  And after they found them, the scientists took pictures, and also they examined the lorises and got some DNA samples.

All of this happened in late 2009, but the photos just now got released so that people could see them.  I don't know why we couldn't see the photos sooner, but maybe the scientists were hogging them.  Anyway, what they said, after studying the Horton Plains Slender Loris, was that there are maybe only about 100 of the lorises left.  And also they think these animals they found might be a whole new species of loris because they have shorter legs and thicker fur than the lorises that don't live high up in the mountains.

So now the scientists and conservationists want to do some things to try to help the Horton Plains Slender Loris have a better life and be able to find more mates and food and stuff like that.  I wish there were enough of them left so that we could have one as a pet, but I guess that won't happen anytime soon.  I also keep wondering if they are yummy to eat, but Mom says, "Don't even think about it!"

Oh, and Mom also says I should tell you that the photos of the Horton Plains Slender Lorises were taken by the Zoological Society of London, and I hope they won't send me to jail because I used them in my blog!

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