Hip-hop recording artist Rihanna caused a stir and prompted two arrests after posing with a Slow Loris – an endangered primate from Southeast Asia – during a recent trip to Thailand.
In the photo, posted to Instagram and her her Twitter feed and since removed, Rihanna is seen holding a Slow Loris up to her cheek with the caption: "Look who was talkin dirty to me!" The image was liked by more than 230,000 viewers, CNN said
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Shortly after the photo made its rounds online, Thailand government officials instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources to investigate the matter since it's illegal for locals to charge tourists to take photos with the endangered primate considering their vulnerable status.
"I had an order from the Phuket Governor to do a raid today after Rihanna posted a photo of her with the loris," Awat Nithikil, leader of the patrol officers, told local news outlet Phuket News
"It is very difficult to do the raids because the touts have spies. If someone hears that the police are coming their way, there will be a person who calls the touts and tells them to move," he added.
Authorities subsequently arrested two men, aged 16 and 20, as a result of the raid. If convicted, the men will face a fine of up to $1,300 and potentially four years in prison, Britain's Daily Mail reported
"It is very difficult to do the raids because the touts have spies," Nithikul added. "If someone hears that the police are coming their way, there will be a person who calls the touts and tells them to move."
Slow Loris have seen their numbers in the wild dwindle significantly in recent years due to poachers illegally trapping and selling them on the black market.
The small, gentle primates are prized for their use in traditional Asian medicine as well as by exotic pet seekers who desire the primates for their wide eyes, soft fur, and almost human-like expressions. As explained by the Japan Wildlife Conservation Society in a BBC article
, Slow Loris are "easy to keep, they don't cry, they're small, and just very cute."
During her visit to Thailand last week, Rihanna also posed with a troop of elephants she ran across and reportedly tweeted about seeing the nation's notorious sex industry districts.
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