Two dozen goats arrived Tuesday to start eating their way through New York City's Riverside Park. The goats will spend the next three months clearing a two-acre stretch of overgrown vegetation in the park, gobbling up invasive plants, including poison ivy and mugwort.
Riverside Park Conservancy arranged for the goats to be brought to the park in Manhattan from Green Goats farm, about 100 miles away in Rhinebeck, New York. Goat handler Larry Cihanek was excited about the goats' new project. "The goats actually help bring back a bigger variety of plants," he told CBS News.
They were greeted by dozens of volunteers and community members. Riverside Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that works with the city to support the park, named the event "Goatham" — a play on "Gotham," a word derived from Old English meaning "goat town."
"Though originally meant as a put-down, New Yorkers embraced the name," the group's website notes. "'Goat town' was an apt description of the undeveloped Upper West Side where goats used to roam." (These days, of course, the neighborhood is home to far more high-rise apartment buildings than goats.)
Goats are able to consume 25% of their body weight in vegetation alone daily, providing an eco-friendly way to maintain some of the park's steepest, most difficult-to-reach areas.
"For them this is a like an all-you-can-eat buffet. It's the ultimate farm to table," Riverside Park Conservancy president and CEO Dan Garodnick told CBS News. "They especially love feasting on invasive plant species like Japanese knotweed and poison ivy that choke and kill native plants."
The animals will roam a fenced-in area from May 21 to August 30.