PEOPLE who share viral internet videos are indirectly responsible for the decline of one of the world’s rarest primates, an Oxford Brookes professor has found.

So many people have wanted a slow loris as a pet after seeing a YouTube video of the ‘cute’ animals that the species is at risk.

A team led by Prof Anna Nekaris measured public perception of the creature, the only primate with a venomous bite, by analysing more than 12,000 comments posted over three years in reply to the original video.

Her team also found more than 100 slow lorises were pictured on YouTube – more than there are in zoos.

She said: “In the beginning when it first went viral, one in four people said they wanted one as a pet.”

She was contacted by Wikipedia because the slow loris page on the internet encyclopaedia was among the website’s 1,000 most viewed articles.

She posted a new article, Slow Loris Conservation, which she said shocked people and increased their awareness of the need to conserve the species.

But even after that, one in 10 people commenting still wanted one as a pet.

She also found that people were offering the animals for sale.