Brooklyn's Prospect Park Has Gone to the Goats

Posted by TF Oren
Photo by Ozier Muhammad for The New York Times

The future of Brooklyn's Prospect Park is now in the hands - or in the mouths, rather - of eight goats.

The Prospect Park Alliance has shelled out $15,000 to hire a herd of eight goats to help restore an area called the Vale of Cashmere, which sits in the northeastern section of the 585-acre public park.

The park has been hit hard over the last few years. A tornado in 2010, followed by Hurricanes Irene and Sandy in 2011 and 2012, respectively, wreaked havoc on the landscape. Downed trees litter the grounds, and on top of the damage caused by the inclement weather, invasive and difficult-to-remove species of vegetation, including English ivy, goutweed, and poison ivy, are crowding out other flora.

The goats, many of which are older and have been rescued from the butcher, belong to Larry and Anna Cihanek, of Rhinebeck, New York. After evaluating 150 potential candidates, the Cihaneks settled on a group of eight, which include Olivia, an eager youngster, and Diego, a mellow loner. Olivia, Diego, and their six counterparts will move to Prospect Park in mid-May and spend the remainder of the spring and all summer grazing, or, rather "working" there.

Some of the Cihaneks' goats hard at work on another job. Photo by Green Goats
Green Goats

The constant munching of eight mouths will go a long way toward restoring the grounds, as goats have been known to consume around 20% of their bodyweight in a day.

"They're a bit like children," says Larry Cihanek. "They will eat their favorite foods first, and one of their top foods is poison ivy. They love it."

Sue Donoghue of the Prospect Park Alliance is excited about welcoming the goats to Prospect Park. It's both an ecologically-friendly method of clearing the overgrowth, as well as an opportunity to educate the public. The park has organized a host of goat-centric activities for park-goers during the goats' stay.

For more information on Prospect Park's goat-filled summer of fun, check out the park's official website.

Brooklyn's Prospect Park Has Gone to the Goats