Sloth Encounters owner Larry Wallach has pled guilty to illegal possession with intent to sell Nile monitors, venomous reptiles who grow up to 7ft long. The district attorney’s office sought incarceration, however, the Honorable Judge Jonathan Bloom sentenced Wallach to only a $250 fine plus a $25 surcharge, basically the cost of doing business.
There are few lizards less suited to life in captivity than the Nile monitor. Buffrenil (1992) considered that, when fighting for its life, a Nile monitor was a more dangerous adversary than a crocodile of a similar size. Their care presents particular problems on account of the lizards’ enormous size and lively dispositions. Very few of the people who buy bright-coloured baby Nile monitors can be aware that, within a couple of years, their purchase will have turned into an enormous, ferocious carnivore, quite capable of breaking the family cat’s neck with a single snap and swallowing it whole.
In Maryland, a man’s “pet” Nile monitors ate their owner while the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) has pleaded with the public for help controlling this dangerous and invasive species after owners released them into the suburbs. None of these animals are suitable pets or props.
In addition to pleading guilty to these state charges, Wallach was recently convicted of civil contempt of court and cited by the federal government for violating the Animal Welfare Act after endangering a baby kangaroo and mishandling sloths. Wallach continues to face criminal charges for illegal possession of sloths, kangaroos, and other wild animals in Suffolk County Fifth District Court.
Humane Long Island is urging the public to contact federal authorities at email@example.com to urge the USDA to revoke Wallach’s license (#21-C-0069) for failing to abide by local laws.