There’s cute stuff happening over at the Little Rock Zoo. On Nov. 18, the zoo welcomed two pygmy slow loris to parents Fraiser and Minh Yih.
The little guys are too small to tell the sex of right now, Zoo Director Susan Altrui said Thursday. Names haven’t officially been announced, though Altrui said staff members are battling over Lemon and Lime or Pumpkin and Spice.
Caretakers are checking in with the twins daily to ensure they’re developing properly. It’s good news so far as mother Minh Yih is training the babies to be “parked” while she forages for food and the babies signal with a clicking distress sound if something’s wrong. Dad Fraiser is in a separate room from the twins as pygmy slow loris males don’t typically help with the rearing, but he can still see them.
The animals are an endangered primate native to several Asian countries. They can grow to be about 10 inches long, but don’t underestimate their size; the little guys are the only known venomous primate, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
“Modified sweat glands near their elbows allow pygmy slow lorises to secrete a toxin,” according to the institute. “When they’re alarmed, they can lick these glands, spreading the toxin to their teeth. Their venom can incapacitate predators as large as humans.”
Their large eyes help them see in dim lighting, and they have nocturnal lifestyles. In the cooler months, they can sleep up to 19 hours a day.
Pygmy slow lorises have a lifespan of 10-20 years. At the Little Rock Zoo, Fraiser is currently 13 years old and Minh Yih is 9. The new babies are the parents’ third set of twins, and all of their offspring have been transported to other zoos. The last set of twins were born in June 2021.
“The Little Rock Zoo is only one of a few Zoos that are successfully producing Pygmy Slow Loris offspring,” primate keeper Karen Caster said via email. “The SSP [Species Survival Plan] makes recommendations based on genetic value on pairing individuals and then whether those pairs are allowed to breed or not. All of this pair’s previous offspring currently reside at other Zoos.”