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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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Closing at a Sloth’s Pace: Activity at a Closed Business

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Despite a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the possession or exhibition of animals and operating a business at 551 Veterans Memorial Highway by 777 Chris’s Way LLC. and Sloth Encounters.com LTD., it appears that business is continuing, albeit not as usual.

The TRO extends to publicly exhibiting, possessing or harboring wild animals in any location within the Town of Islip other than those pursuant to the Islip Town Code.

Islip Town Code makes harboring and possession of wild animals in any place within Islip illegal, other than a select few exceptions.

Near every hour of the day, cars believed by animal rights groups to be owned by the businesses’ operators can be seen in front of the store.

Per SlothEncounters.com: “We’re temporarily closed for our in-store encounters, but we’re offering private home encounters where we come to you! Our trained staff and sloths are hitting the road where we’ll guide you through the educational experience in the comfort of your own home!” Reports from other local media outlets confirm that the business is continuing to do at-home events, including in Islip, as per Humane Long Island.

Following a brief investigation by The Messenger, what sounded like the proprietor, Larry Wallach, explained that the facility was “booked solid” through December.

Traffic patterns around the business seem to suggest that the sloths or materials necessary for their business are still being stored at the 551 Veterans Highway location. A social media post from the business also states that more “baby sloths” are arriving.

Proprietor Wallach told The Messenger that he is “absolutely not” storing sloths at the facility, nor is he engaging in operations incompatible with Islip Town Code at the location.

However, both the apparently continued operations at 551 Veterans Highway and the alleged exhibition of wildlife in Islip have elicited strong reactions from the animal rights community, who were celebrating their court decision in their favor not so long ago.

“[Sloths are] still 100% illegally held at that location, obviously in violation of the restraining order,” said John Di Leonardo, president of Humane Long Island. He claimed to have evidence and witnesses placing the sloths at the location. He further claimed that Sloth Encounters Facebook shows recent videos of the facility from after the TRO.

“Suffolk County and Islip need to take this more seriously and take them to court for contempt,” affirmed Di Leonardo.

Di Leonardo also wants the USDA to revoke his license since a condition of his exhibitor’s license is that he follows all applicable local laws, “and he’s not doing that.”

Humane Long Island also lists other alleged violations the sloths have been involved in places like Long Beach, Nassau County, where the sloths were brought into a restaurant in an apparent violation of Nassau County and New York State health code.

According to a Town of Islip spokesperson, there have been no developments from the town at this time. The defendants are expected back in court on Thursday, December 1.

Brian R. Monahan
Brian R. Monahan
News Editor for The Messenger Papers.