Hauppauge-based Sloth Encounters has sold 30-minute holding and feeding sessions with its...

Hauppauge-based Sloth Encounters has sold 30-minute holding and feeding sessions with its sloths for $50. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A hearing to decide the fate of the Hauppauge-based Sloth Encounters has been adjourned to later this month. 

The case, which was to be heard Thursday by Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge Joseph Santorelli, has been adjourned until Oct. 27. Santorelli granted a temporary restraining order on Sept. 15 that forced Sloth Encounters to temporarily shutter its business, a win for Islip Town, which sought the order.

Now, Islip attorneys are seeking a permanent injunction. The temporary restraining order was extended until then, town spokesperson Caroline Smith said Wednesday.

The hearing was moved after Sloth Encounters attorney John Zollo requested the adjournment, which Islip Town attorneys consented to, Suffolk County District Administrative Judge Andrew Crecca told Newsday on Wednesday. 

The Veterans Memorial Highway business sold 30-minute holding and feeding sessions with its sloths for $50. Larry Wallach, a federally licensed animal exhibitor, operated Sloth Encounters without the proper zoning and permits in Islip Town. Wallach previously said in court that he “didn’t really think” before investing $375,000 to open a business without necessary permits. 

Since its closure, Sloth Encounters has advertised in-home sloth visits, at least two of which have occurred in Islip Town hamlets, according to the business’ social media posts. Santorelli’s order forbids Sloth Encounters from “publicly exhibiting” wild animals at its store or “exhibiting, possessing or harboring” them anywhere else in Islip that would violate town code.

The Suffolk County petting zoo permit allows Sloth Encounters to hold in-home visits and mobile petting zoo activities. But the permit requires the business to follow local and state regulations, the Suffolk County Health Department said Wednesday. Although the business is required to log the locations of visits, it is not required to submit the list to the county, the health department said. 

Sloth Encounters posted on Facebook that it planned to open a new physical location with even more sloths. If the business moves and plans to conduct on-site petting zoo activities, it would be required to apply for an updated permit from Suffolk County, county spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle said; the current permit will expire Dec. 31, 2023. 

Zollo, the attorney for Sloth Encounters, declined to comment Wednesday. 

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