Washington Authorities Seize Sloths, a Lizard and Other Exotic Animals From Owners

Animal services over the weekend confiscated a number of sloths and other exotic animals at a location in Olympia, Washington, after officials said the owners did not have the forms necessary to own them.

Authorities said they seized a variety of animals from owners, including South American tree sloths, an Asian monitor lizard and other reptiles and insects, according to KIRO-TV in Seattle. The animals cannot be owned or sold without the proper forms, which the business running out of a former camera shop in Olympia reportedly could not produce. The owners reportedly were licensed as a sloth rescue out of state, in Oregon.

"Research from the group's website based out of Oregon shows that they do meet-and-greets with them, and sometimes sleepovers. We were kind of concerned that they'd been breeding them as well as one of them did have a baby and one was pregnant," Courtney Mclees of Thurston County Animal Services told KIRO-TV.

The animals have since been taken to a private sanctuary.

How several sloths and a Asian monitor lizard were confiscated at a house in Olympia today >>https://t.co/C0DRMsnMfh pic.twitter.com/93yEDy0uph

— KIRO 7 (@KIRO7Seattle) April 1, 2018

A 2013 report from ABC News on the massive illegal exotic-animal trade in Colombia—part of a $20 billion global industry—noted that sloths were the hottest-selling animal despite not being particularly well-suited for living in homes.

"They did not evolve to be somebody's house pet," zoologist Lucy Cooke told ABC, saying they are extremely difficult to care for out of the wild. "Sloths make lousy pets. That's the truth of it."

Shocking undercover video last year showed a wild sloth being dragged from its home by illegal loggers in a rainforest in Peru to be sold for entertainment and tourism purposes. "It is ludicrous that this is to fuel the wildlife selfie craze which has become a worldwide phenomenon," Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection, told The Independent at the time.

That animal reportedly sold just $13 at a local market to be used in tourist pictures, but sloths can cost a pretty penny in the states.

KIRO-TV reported the tree-sloths seized in Washington could sell for anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000.