The Humane Society of the United States has accused Sloth Encounters Long Island of physical abuse and poor conditions of captive sloths after conducting an undercover investigation.
An investigator reported that they captured disturbing footage of staff members hitting sloths, sloths kept in crowded conditions, sloths fighting each other, and of the business owner, Larry Wallach, allegedly grabbing a wounded sloth’s head and neck.
Sloth Encounters Long Island is located on Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge. People can pay $50 to pet, feed, and hold sloths.
“Sloths should never be used in public interactions,” The Humane Society stated. “They are quiet, reclusive animals, and being handled by — or even close to — people can cause a sloth’s blood pressure to rise. While sloths may appear compliant while being petted, they respond to fear by holding still and may actually be terrified.”
Wallach converted a former pool supplies store into Sloth Encounters and houses seven sloths, according to the Humane Society. The society also noted that between 2010 and 2023, Wallach was cited 28 times for AWA violations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2013 Wallach’s AWA license was suspended for six months for several violations relating to animal care.
The Town of Islip has been prosecuting Sloth Encounters and Wallach since the “day that this issue was brought to our attention,” a town spokesperson said.