Speak up for those who can’t: Urge authorities to revoke Sloth Encounters exhibitor’s license

By John Di Leonardo 

In the latest chapter of Long Island’s sloth saga, the Suffolk County Supreme Court has ruled SlothEncounters.com, LTD and its landlord 777 Chris’s Way, LLC guilty of civil contempt of court, writing “It is the opinion of this Court that the location continues to be operated as a petting zoo under the pretense that it is a pet store. This conclusion is well supported by Wallach’s own testimony.” The Honorable Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. Santorelli has further ordered that Sloth Encounters must “immediately cease and desist from operating the subject premises as a ‘pet store’ or petting zoo” and that “the defendants shall be fined the sum of $250.00 per day, payable to the Town, for each day the defendants continue to operate as a pet store or petting zoo in violation of the March 30, 2023, Order of the Court.” 
For the slow-moving, tree-dwelling baby sloths and vulnerable baby kangaroos and other animals who are subjected to grabbing hands, noisy crowds, and ramshackle cages inside a store zoned for pool supplies in Hauppauge, this decision offers little solace. However, a condition of Sloth Encounters’ owner Larry Wallach’s federal exhibitor license is that he must abide by local laws so this decision does pave the way for the revocation of Larry Wallach’s license and eventual retirement of the suffering animals to reputable facilities where they can live a more natural life.

In addition to the contempt charge Wallach was just convicted of, Sloth Encounters is currently facing state charges for illegal possession and transportation of Nile monitors — venomous reptiles who grow up to 7ft long — and is facing criminal charges for illegal possession of sloths, kangaroos, and other wild animals in Suffolk County Fifth District Court. Sloth Encounters’ owner Larry Wallach has previously been cited for more than 50 federal violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including two critical violations last year for lying to USDA inspectors about an incident involving the bite of a child at Sloth Encounters and for mishandling animals in a way that’s dangerous to the public and the animals. He was also cited earlier this year for not providing USDA inspectors access to inspect his facility. 

As the venerable Mahavira preached, “do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature of living being.” And as I’ve previously written, “By denying the wild nature of these animals and violently stealing all that is natural and important to them in the pursuit of money and notoriety, Sloth Encounters is violating Satya, Ahimsa, Asteya, and Aparigraha.” While the United States legal system often moves slower than a sloth’s pace, today some progress has been made. 

Acharya Tulsi Ji


You can help us make further progress for these sensitive, tropical animals by making a small vow, or Anuvrat, to always speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. You can begin by speaking up for the sloths:

1) Email federal authorities at [email protected] and urge them to revoke Sloth Encounters exhibitor Larry Wallach’s license (21-C-0069) for failing to abide by local laws. 

2) Email Legislative clerk Frank.Tassone@suffolkcountyny.gov to urge the Suffolk County Legislature to pass Intro 1777 to restrict traveling exotic animal acts immediately and without further exemptions, both to protect public safety and animal welfare. 

Learn more about Long Island’s most sordid animal exhibitor at LarryWallach.com.

John Di Leonardo is the founding director of Humane Long Island. He was previously the Senior Manager of Grassroots Campaigns and Animals in Entertainment Campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He has a Master’s degree in Anthrozoology from Canisius College. He also earned a graduate certificate in Jain Studies from the International School of Jain Studies (ISJS) in India. John can be reached at [email protected].  

Image courtesy of Provided

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