SUFFOLK COUNTY, NY — Sloth Encounters, a business in Hauppauge where people pay to pet, feed and hold sloths, was ordered by the Suffolk County Supreme Court to “immediately cease any operations that are a violation of the Town of Islip Code,” according to court documents submitted this month.

Islip was granted a preliminary injunction against Sloth Encounters and its landlord, 777 Chris’s Way, LLC. The court also denied Sloth Encounters’s motion to dismiss.

The court previously granted Islip a temporary restraining order preventing Sloth Encounters from “operating unlawfully” while the court considered the injunction.

Click Here: 2021 Soccer Tracksuit

Find out what's happening in Hauppaugewith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Larry Wallach, an animal specialist at Sloth Encounters, was then accused of advertising at-home sloth visits in a since-deleted Instagram post. Bonnie S. Klapper, a former federal prosecutor, has said Sloth Encounters making home visits in the Town of Islip a “blatant violation” of a judge’s restraining order against the business.

The Sloth Encounters website, as of Friday, advertises sloths for sale, in addition to kangaroos, snakes, lizards, spiders, turtles and frogs.

Find out what's happening in Hauppaugewith free, real-time updates from Patch.

“Visit Long Islands ONLY Educational Sloth and BABY KANGAROO Encounter!” the site reads. “Where you’ll be one on one with Sloths and Kangaroos to see if they’re the right animal for you to PURCHASE!”

Pet sloths are currently legal in New York.

John R. DiCioccio of Islip is representing the plaintiffs.

“With this new Supreme Court decision, Sloth Encounters and its owner Larry Wallach are now on notice and cannot hide behind a motion to dismiss,” said John Di Leonardo, executive director of Humane Long Island and an anthrozoologist. “Humane Long Island is urging Islip to enforce this preliminary injunction and ensure that Sloth Encounters is shut down. Islip sadly made no effort to enforce its prior temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court despite being presented with a mountain of ongoing violations as Wallach’s dangerous and illegal business has rapidly expanded in violation of local laws.”

John Zollo, the Smithtown attorney representing Sloth Encounters and 777 Chris’s Way LLC, said Sloth Encounters is not in violation of the town code.

“He has a pet store,” Zollo told Patch. “He’s not operating a petting zoo. A pet store is a permitted use within that zoning category. If you have the opportunity to go there, you’ll see it’s a pet store.”

Zollo said sloths and kangaroos are not considered wild animals in New York state and plans to address it next week with the court.

The defendants claimed they are no longer “operating a’petting zoo’ at the location” and “not harboring ‘wild animals’ at the premises as sloths, by definition, are not ‘wild animals,'” court documents read.

The plaintiffs have until April 27 to serve a copy of the order to Zollo. The defendants will then have 20 days to answer.

The Town of Islip declined Patch’s request for comment.

A judge ruled in September that Sloth Encounters was forbidden from “publicly exhibiting” wild animals at its store or “exhibiting, possessing or harboring” them anywhere that would violate the Town of Islip code, Newsday reported.

Wallach previously told Newsday the sloths are with him and that he has a license issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that was set to expire this year. The sloth visits are off-premises and don’t have anything to do with the physical storefront, Wallach told Newsday.

In September, Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter told Patch the town would prosecute the case to “ensure that no business operates illegally in the Town of Islip.”

Then in November, Suffolk County proposed a bill that would restrict the use of exotic animals in traveling performances.

State and local governments have their own animal welfare legislation. Those with licenses must follow all state and local laws, in addition to the federal animal welfare standards, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which licensed Wallach. The Animal Welfare Act does not supersede state and local authorities, and those with licenses must follow the local guidelines.

Sloth Encounters was operating at 551 Veterans Memorial Highway. Dueling petitions have been created around Sloth Encounters, with one advocating for the business and the other pushing for its shutdown.

Get more local news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch newsletters and alerts.