A slow loris video from 2009 is back in the news. A new study called Tickled To Death appeared in late July in the open access journal PLOS One.
The researchers wanted to study the impact of viral videos on the illegal animal trade. So they selected the slow loris video, examined what people said in the comments, and concluded that cute animal videos are a very bad thing for endangered species.
You can hit that button up top and see the video right here.
But the short version is that it's some Russian dude named Dmitry Sergeyev tickling his slow loris. It's cute as all heck and has enjoyed almost 400,000 views on YouTube.
And maybe I'm not a big ole slow loris expert, but this animal appears to be a domesticated pet that enjoys the attention. But look for yourself, and see what you think.
Sergeyev said that the animal is domestic-bred and legal for him to own.
In the PLOS One article, primatologist Anna Nekaris and her colleagues come pretty close to calling him a liar. Based on the number of the animals bred in Russia, they think the odds are good that she wasn't domestic-bred.
Well, maybe. To my mind, they're accusing a man of a pretty big crime without much evidence.
According to Live Science, the actual data came from Wired, which hosted the video for some time until 2012. They said it collected over 9 million views and over 12,000 comments. In the early days of the video's success, about 25 percent of viewers apparently said they wanted a slow loris as a pet.
That precentage dropped over time. Eventually the figure stabilized with around 11 percent of the commenters expressing a desire to own a slow loris.
Either way, the researchers concluded that watching the slow loris viral video actually fueled people's desire to own one -- and thus sparked a rise in the illegal trade of the animals.
"The slow loris video should have been taken down a long time ago because it's illegal," Nekaris told Live Science.
But is it? As far as I can tell, it's he said, she said about the legality of the slow loris in question.
It's also a huge leap in logic to assume that what we say in the comments section of a cute video has all that much to do with what we really intend to do.
I recently made a completely unscientific analysis of thousands of comments about a cute musician's new music video. I'd say way more than 25 percent of viewers expressed a desire to get lucky with this individual. It doesn't mean even one of them actually went out and tried to molest the guy.
It's just a dream.
My mind is pretty open. If there's real evidence that this video did harm, I'd love to know about it.
If a slow loris or any other animal was harmed by the making of a viral video, by all means take it down. But I don't consider a bunch of comments saying, "Awww, I want one" proof that the slow loris video made people buy illegal pets. What do you think?
[slow loris Daniel Chong Kah Fui via Flickr, Creative Commons]