Sloth Encounters temporarily shut down following multiple citations for violations
A Suffolk judge has sided with animal advocates, ordering the exotic animal facility Sloth Encounters to temporarily shut down.
The business that lets people get up close with sloths has been cited for multiple violations, including possession of wild animals and occupancy without fire marshal approval.
Larry Wallach, who owns Sloth Encounters, claimed the animals are properly cared for. His attorney says the move is an unfortunate turn of events.
"The judge was kind of constrained to what he could do so he did— unfortunate for my client— the right thing with the issue of the restraining order and I don't have a problem with that," says Wallach's attorney John Zollo.
Zollo explained that many establishments can stay open during the process of rectifying zoning violations, adding that his client has taken the steps asked of him. He says Wallach is complying with the fire marshal and filing a change of use application.
A spokesperson for the Town of Islip issued a statement saying, "What was submitted for the change of use didn't meet the minimum requirements for review. The town received a wave of complaints. Given the nature of the use and the types of complaints we received, we felt it was in the public's best interest to enforce the zoning code immediately."
Humane Long Island members say they will continue to fight until the store is closed for good.
"This is teaching children all the wrong lessons that animals are props for exploitation and that's why we are urging Suffolk County to ban these close encounters with exotic animals," says John Di Leonardo, of Humane Long Island.
Wallach says he will be visiting schools and private homes with his sloths until his court hearing on Oct. 6.