LATEST PAPER
69° Good Morning
69° Good Morning
LifestylePets

Prospect Park goats: Meet the hungry herd that's eating its way through Brooklyn

Brownstone Brooklyn’s not just for hipsters. A group of eight goats has moved into the borough to help restore Prospect Park’s woodlands by munching on overgrown weeds and generally living their best goat lives.

Storms have damaged or destroyed more than 500 trees in the park, which has caused weeds to plague the area, according to the Prospect Park Alliance.

“The herd of eight hungry goats ... represent our environmentally friendly approach to woodland restoration,” said Sue Donoghue, the president of the Prospect Park Alliance, which is overseeing the project. “Over the coming months, they will climb this area’s steep hills to eat invasive weeds that have proliferated in the landscape in the absence of trees to make room for new native species, plants, and grasses.”

These goats will move throughout several sections of the park over the course of the next four months, eating English ivy, poison ivy and goutweed, to name a few. Donoghue said the goats will continue to eat the weeds until they eventually stop growing back.

In total, they will cover 1.5 acres, Donoghue said. They moved in on Monday, she said, and are starting on an area of about 800 to 900 square feet.

The animals, who are all retired dairy or show goats, are trained to do this kind of work by Rhinebeck-based Green Goats. Their labor costs about $15,000, which will come out of the $727,970 that the Alliance received from the National Park Service as part of the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grant Program for Historic Preservation.

Leslie Wright, the city’s regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said the agency is excited “the alliance has engaged such [an] environmentally smart, and certainly small carbon footprinted, workforce” to get rid of the weeds.

And while people are asked not to touch or feed the goats — they are eating poison ivy and their skin could have traces of the itchy plant — a few furballs are more than happy to pose for the camera.

“For kids, it will be wonderful for them just to see this wildlife in the park,” Donoghue said. “We do feel like the educational aspect of this is really important so that kids will understand that we are using these animals to actually get work done.”

Mary Keehbauch, the natural resources crew foreperson for the project, will be working with the goats to rid the park of invasive species, as well as monitoring the goats’ progress.

“It’s an opportunity for children living in the city to experience the goats and watch their habits, just exposure,” she said. “They all have very different personalities. They are definitely individuals.”

Max

Max is the shortest of the bunch, but
Photo Credit: amNewYork / Alison Fox

Max is the shortest of the bunch, but doesn't appreciate the distinction. He tries to climb on things often to get a higher vantage point and would love to spend the whole day on a park bench if he could.

Raptor

Raptor thinks she is a deer and likes
Photo Credit: amNewYork / Alison Fox

Raptor thinks she is a deer and likes to climb fences. She likes mints, but please don't feed her any. You don't want to ruin her figure.

Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown is a bit self-centered - just
Photo Credit: amNewYork / Alison Fox

Charlie Brown is a bit self-centered - just don't tell her we said that. She likes to pose and smile for the camera.

Zoya

Zoya is the oldest goat, and the mother
Photo Credit: amNewYork / Alison Fox

Zoya is the oldest goat, and the mother to both her girls: Reese and Olivia. She is very thoughtful and assesses situations before she walks into them.

Reese

Reese likes everyone and is very social. She
Photo Credit: amNewYork / Alison Fox

Reese likes everyone and is very social. She tends to stick by her mom, Zoya, and her sister, Olivia.

Olivia

Olivia is very social, but tends to stick
Photo Credit: amNewYork / Alison Fox

Olivia is very social, but tends to stick by her mom, Zoya, and her sister, Olivia.

Skittles

Skittles came to New York on a ferry
Photo Credit: amNewYork / Alison Fox

Skittles came to New York on a ferry from Maine. He loves to get his cheeks scratched, but he's a bit of a loner.

Diego

Diego is very vocal and tends to bond
Photo Credit: amNewYork / Alison Fox

Diego is very vocal and tends to bond with her humans. She also tends to stay further away from the other goats.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Things to Do Photos & Videos