Update (July 17, 2023): Larry Wallach was found in contempt of court on July 10 because he was continuing to operate an animal exhibit under the pretense that it was a pet store, in violation of a court order.
Wallach’s been ordered to cease and desist from operating a pet store or petting zoo at Sloth Encounters’ location, and he cannot legally open the existing site to the public while the case proceeds. If he violates this order, he will be fined $250 per day.
We’re hoping that he takes this opportunity to do the right thing by surrendering all the animals in his custody to appropriate facilities designed for their well-being, instead of using them as tools to turn a profit.
Please urge Wallach to stop exploiting wild animals and allow them to be transferred to reputable facilities where they can get the care they desperately need.
Please feel free to use our sample letter, but remember that using your own words is always more effective.
Update (April 12, 2023): The writing is on the wall for serial animal exploiter Larry Wallach and his Sloth Encounters business. In September 2022, the Town of Islip, New York—where the outfit is located—filed a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction to get Sloth Encounters closed after Wallach failed to take appropriate steps to bring his business in line with town code.
In March 2023, the Suffolk County Supreme Court in New York ordered Wallach “to immediately cease any operations that are a violation [of] the Town of Islip Code.” As a result, he can’t legally possess, exhibit, or sell any wild animals at his facility while the case against him proceeds. The court also denied his attempt to dismiss the case and found that the town had demonstrated a likelihood of succeeding in its litigation. Although the case is still in progress, this ruling represents a step toward closing down his cruel business.
Despite this court order, Wallach continued to exhibit sloths and sell prohibited wild animals at his facility, so in April 2023, the Town of Islip filed a motion for contempt against the animal exploiter. The town also asked the court to charge him with civil and criminal contempt for his violation and to impose fines. Keep reading to learn more about Islip’s case against Wallach, and stay tuned for more updates as the case proceeds.
The Case Against Larry Wallach
Sloth Encounters is in direct violation of Islip’s laws concerning zoning and possession of wild animals. In addition to filing the lawsuit seeking to shut this illegal business down, the town has charged it with four criminal violations. When PETA saw Wallach electroshock a young tiger named Sheba on video in 2020, we alerted the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Although the agency inexplicably let the abuse slide, it cited him with multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Wallach’s History of Abusing Animals
After Wallach came under fire for his terrible treatment of Sheba, he started keeping seven sloths prisoner for people to handle, prod, and terrify in a poorly refitted pool-supply store, just to make a buck. This includes keeping a baby sloth, who should have still been with her mother, in a tiny cage and forcing her into encounters with the public.
Take Action for Sloths
Sloth Encounters’ website says that it has “been in the business of caring for animals for over 40 years.” Clearly, Wallach’s interpretation of “care” is warped, as he exploits the animals for profit. The only place these sloths should be is at a reputable facility—and if Sloth Encounters gets shut down, they should have the opportunity to find peace at one.
Originally published on May 27, 2021:
Animals aren’t photo props for humans to pose with. They’re living, feeling beings who deserve our care and respect. Urge Wallach to throw in the towel on his failing, speciesist business and transfer the sloths to a reputable facility where they could get the proper care they need.
Larry Wallach surely didn’t intend to help PETA sound the alarm on him, but that’s exactly what the backyard animal exploiter did when he went live on Facebook electroshocking a juvenile tiger named Sheba, keeping her in a rundown enclosure, and handling her in a harmful and inhumane manner. After PETA alerted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the videos, the agency cited Wallach for numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
The citations included failing to follow veterinary instructions for treatment of Sheba’s broken toe, confining her to an enclosure with broken floorboards, putting her and a wolf at risk of injury by allowing them to interact, and not having adequate fencing to prevent her from escaping. Notice anything missing? Despite a regulation explicitly stating that physical abuse shall not be used when handling animals, the USDA did not cite Wallach for shocking Sheba with the electric prod, sending the message that he can continue to use the torture tool with abandon and without consequences.
The USDA had previously cited Wallach for a litany of AWA violations, including for confining a cub to a kennel in his cluttered New York garage, not feeding cubs an appropriate diet, and allowing the public to interact with juvenile tigers.