Update (July 14, 2023): Promising developments may signal the beginning of the end for Larry Wallach’s exploitative Sloth Encounters business. In September 2022, the Town of Islip in New York filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down Wallach’s petting zoo for several violations of the town code related to zoning and the unlawful possession of wild animals. Soon afterward, the Suffolk County Supreme Court issued an order holding that Wallach could not possess or exhibit wild animals in Islip until further order from the court. Instead of following the court order, he shadily tried to rebrand as a pet store.
On July 10, 2023, the Suffolk County Supreme Court found that Wallach’s pet store rebranding was a ruse and that he was continuing to exhibit wild animals in violation of the court’s order. He now must cease and desist from operating Sloth Encounters as a petting zoo (or a pet store) in Islip until further notice from the court. If he continues to operate in the town, he faces a $250 penalty per day.
Wallach faces mounting legal problems over his exploitation of sloths, but court cases take time—and these animals are still suffering at his hands and in need of your help!
Long Island animal exploiter Larry Wallach has a long history of being cited for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act’s minimum standards of care. Citations include failing to follow veterinary instructions for treatment of a tiger cub’s broken toe, confining the cub to an enclosure with broken floorboards, confining a sloth to his cluttered garage, failing to feed cubs an appropriate diet, and allowing the public to interact with juvenile tigers, which puts everyone involved in danger. He’s also been caught on camera shocking a juvenile tiger with an electric prod—footage he posted to his own Facebook page.
Now, this callous exhibitor has set up shop in the hamlet of Hauppauge, New York (located in the town of Islip), to offer public encounters with sloths. Sloths are nocturnal animals who sleep up to 20 hours a day and spend the majority of their time alone, but Wallach subjects them to the stress of irregular sleep, mishandling, loud noises, and crowds of strangers. Sloths have even been known to injure humans with their sharp claws and teeth. Public interactions are even more stressful to vulnerable baby animals, who are prematurely torn away from their mothers to be used as photo props. Baby sloths cling to their mother for up to nine months—which is critical for the babies’ learning and improves their confidence and motor development—yet Wallach keeps a baby sloth in a tiny cage and allows public encounters with her. Exploiting sloths in this way is a form of speciesism, and it must end.
Please urge Larry Wallach to stop exploiting sloths and allow them to be transferred to a reputable facility where they can get the care they desperately need.
Exhibitor/Licensee, Sloth Encounters
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