Tag Archives: nature

Loveable Loris -The Plushy Profile.

Allow me to introduce you to Plushy- my favorite Slow Loris that resides in the “Night World” Exhibit at the Moscow Zoo.


Though he resembles more a mini bear than a baboon, Plushy can proudly lay claim to belonging to the Primate family .(species of strepsirrhine primates which make up the genus Nycticebus)

Now you may ask “What’s the fun in coming to the zoo and watching a nocturnal animal sleep?” . Well the clever zoo keepers manipulate the light settings in the Nightworld enclosure to create nighttime during our day (thus allowing us to observe them without having to stay up at night with a gallon of coffee and a “Who cares about the animals, I just want to sleep” attitude).

Though they are known to move around slow (hence the very appropriate name) and silent (a very important survival tactic, as their slothful movements rustle less leaves , thus reducing the probability of detection by predators) do not be fooled their bite IS worse than their bark, literally.

Slow lorisis are unique as they have a toxic bite thanks to a scent gland on their upper arm that they lick to activate with saliva. The Loris uses it as a weapon against predators and apply it to their fur whilst grooming and also comes in handy as a “predator proof” system when executing “infant parking”- leaving their babies on branches while they hunt. (But fear not humans this bite is not deadly to us, but it can cause severe pain and an allergic reaction).

A few other interesting “superpowers” of the slow loris include:

  • reflective layer on eye to improve night vision and monochrome vision (very
  • They produce their own vitamin C (a trait we humans lack)
  • Toothcomb grooming claw (hands on approach to ” fur do’s )
  •  They also can consume gluta bark , by metabolizing the toxins which are fatal to humans (iron stomach much?)

Something else worth definitely mentioning is the slow loris “death grip”:

Due to a very strong muscular build in their extremities, which allows them to have enough strength to hang of of branches for long periods of time, lorisis have a very powerful clutch . Anyone who has experience in working with slow lorises probably has experienced or at least is aware of the dangers of this trait, because once it has you in its clutch, it’s more impossible to shake off than one of grandma’s hugs. I speak from personal experience, as I once had the “pleasure” of having Plushy climb up on my head without permission (while I was in his enclosure raking bark ) .Let me tell you- I’m not exaggerating about the “death grip” – I didn’t know what to be more worried about- loosing half my hair or his toxic bite .But I kept my cool because the imperative thing in situations like these  (as is with working with wild animals in general ) is to not panic and most importantly, NOT TO TRY TO REMOVE THE LORIS WITH YOUR HANDS – they will panic and bite. Instead ,as per the instructions of my superior , I walked up to the nearest branch and waited until he climbed off (thankfully it only took him one very long , for me, minute to do so)

But aside from that incident (which once again taught me how important it was to never get too comfortable in an animal’s enclosure, no matter how familiar) working,(or playing butler, which is more the case in zookeepin) with Plushy has brought a new appreciation for the lesser primates, and the realization of just how underrated they are.

Because they may be the slow loris, but their charm and adorably peculiar nature steals your heart pretty quickly. 



My buddy the Northern pigtail macaque (dubbed Baba by myself)

When I would go to the capuchin cages right next to his to feed them treats (a bribe so I could observe them without them thinking of me as a enemy), he would go to the side of his cage and watch me , trying to figure out what I was doing, and why wasn’t I giving him treats? The reason to that was that this primate in life has a very intimidating pressence and I already had previously gotten my hand almost pulled off by a fluffy little stump tailed macaque, so I wasnt going to take any chances with this one. But the adventurous gene of mine got the best of me, and so I approached his cage in a very calm and cautious manner, with my the treats in my open palm visible to him. I slowly laid the treats in front of him on his little platform, from where he cautiously took one and after sniffing it, ate it. He outstreched his hand , signaling he wanted to be handfed (as I did with the capuchins)but knowing better I did’nt. We proceeded in such an exchange for the next two days, and on the third one ,(against all my common senses) I carefully extended him the treat to his hand, which to my suprise, he took very gently and , no exagerations, gracefully.
After that, we have become great buds and he evern let me pet him on the head once.
This was one of the most thrilling and amazing moments in my life.

Observing Hamadryas baboons.

Observing a family of Hamadryas baboons .

Lessons learned:

№1. Hamadryas baboons don’t “yawn”- this is a physical display of aggression to intruders and enemies.(Another one- lowering of the eyelids)

№2. I was amazed at the male baboons, especially their relationship with their young ones. Though strict in conduct with females, baboon dads will take enjoy playing with their kids, and take the daddy duty of protecting their children extremely serious.

Which leads me to lesson № 3:

3. Although you always should step on to a wild animal’s territory with caution, be a thousand times as careful when conducting yourself around baboon families with children. DO NOT APPROACH. Otherwise, this will happen:

Tied with lesson №3. , is lesson number 4: for a relatively large primate, baboons can charge with impressive speed. (View video above for evidence and a demonstration).

Lesson № 5.Getting charged by a baboon is a lesson you never forget.

Credits : The former lessons were  taught e by this enchanting creature:

1011901_10151511058038325_1119472997_n Hamadryas family  alpha male . 

Another amazing moment captured.

Another amazing moment captured.

I find it so amazing to observe how mother primates conduct themselves with their young. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But pictures like this are worth a thousand emotions.

Gelada- the last descendants of an ancient family

Upon first glance, this beautiful creature would be pegged as a baboon, but even though the gelada is closely related to the Papio genus (Papio latin for baboon)in physical appearance and taxonomy , the geladas are a species that rightfully should be recognized as the sole survivors of  a genus set apart from other Baboons. There is no question of why the last living  descendants of the  Theropithecus family name is literally translated “beast -ape ” from Latin:


Beast? Indeed.

Interesting facts about the gelada:

Although males are more colorful and bigger in size – the females  dominate the gelada society.(When an aging male begins to decline, the females in his family decide when he will be replaced by a younger rival)

A distinctive physical characteristic of the gelada is a bright red triangular patch on its chest. When the gelada female is in estrous (ready to get it on ), a “necklace” of fluid filled beads appear on the patch, signaling the males that its time for a little monkey buizzness.(Females usually copulate up to 5 times a day, usually during midday)

This is important because geladas have a unique “gait” while walking- It squats bipedally and moves by sliding its feet without changing its posture, and their rump is unavailable for display, and the little bright red chest patches are the visible signal for mating.

The gelada “shuffle” is used during feeding, which the gelada does-ALOT. They are grazer and 90 %of their diet is grass blades.


They are the most sociable of African primates combining their family units of 1 male and 3-6 females to form a conglomerate of 500-600 primates!

They are the most terrestrial of non-human primates.

The gelada can be found only in Ethiopia. (About 250,000 individuals)


Male head-and-body length: 69 – 74 cm

Female head-and-body length: 50 – 65 cm

Male tail length: 46 – 50 cm

Female tail length: 30 – 41 cm

Male weight: c. 20 kg

Female weight: 12 – 16 kg

Infant geladas are ADORABLE little beasts (undisputable fact) :

Infant male gelada baboon playing with grass shoot*Practicing my mean mug *


Anna Artsibasheva