The next exotic pet to go viral. Is social media causing an increase in the demand of owning bushbabies as pets?
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Oxford Brookes University
Monitor Conservation Research Society
Online publication date: 2022-01-22
Publication date: 2022-01-22
Corresponding author
Magdalena S. Svensson   

Oxford Brookes University
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2022;33(1):51-57
Social media is known to influence consumers’ attitudes and to increase demand for wild animals as pets, when depicted online. We investigate the online presence of the nocturnal primates galagos, on TikTok and Instagram, and its influence on followers’ attitudes and desire to keep galagos as pets. We monitored activity June - December 2020 and conducted sentiment analysis on 21976 comments. We assessed trends in Google searches and estimated the international trade of live galagos using CITES reports. Post views increased up to 472% within the study period. Posts were mostly from Japan, Thailand, and Russia, with comments in 43 different languages. Of the comments, 95% were positive, e.g., "cute"' and "I want one". Google searches of the term "galago pet" increased over time, as did the number of live galagos exported. Southeast Asia is having a boom in exotic pet trade. Viral videos of other nocturnal primates previously led to increased demand for pets, and we hope our findings provide data to guide policy and conservation interventions.
We thank Global Wildlife Conservation and the Primate Action Fund. We thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and suggestions for improvement.
Support made possible by the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation. TQM was also supported by the Christensen Conservation Leaders Scholarship (WCS Graduate Scholarship Program); Sidney Byers Scholarship award (Wildlife Conservation Network Scholarship Program) and Funds for Women Graduates (British Federation of Women Graduates).
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