Town of Islip seeks to shut down Sloth Encounters for violations of town code
The Town of Islip is taking legal action to shut down Sloth Encounters in Hauppauge.
The town attorney says they filed a summons and complaint for a permanent injunction to close the animal business for violations of town code, including possession of wild animals and occupancy without fire marshal approval.
Town officials previously issued four summonses against the business.
The petting zoo has been open for a few months and allows people to get up close and personal with the animals.
Animal activists say the sloths should be in sanctuaries and not used for photo ops.
"These animals wouldn't be exploited for photo props, they wouldn't be harassed during daylight hours when they should be sleeping, they would be able to eat natural foods and not be hand fed by people who are harassing them," John Di Leonardo, of Humane Long Island says.
Di Leonardo says he is glad that Islip is taking this seriously and is looking forward to seeing the business shut down so the sloths can be sent to reputable sanctuaries where they can live a more normal life.
Larry Wallach, the owner of the business, says the animals are treated well and that he has proper permits.
"They're getting the best food, the best temperature, the best humidity," Wallach says. "They have plenty of room, they have enough room to run around. They're not nervous, they're just happy. I don't get it."
Workers at Sloth Encounters are urging the town to reconsider.
"I invite each and every single on of you, I'm making eye contact with every single one of you, to come down and form your own opinion," says Ashley Herkommer.
The decision - whether or not to grant a temporary restraining order for the business - will be made by a judge. The town plans to formally file their document Wednesday.