New York

Game of Goats: Voters Decide Which Riverside Park Goats Get Laid Off

What to Know

  • After hiring 24 goats to remove invasive species from the park, Riverside Park Conservancy laid off 6 animals for doing their job too well.
  • Voters choose which goats stay in Manhattan for the rest of the summer on the Vote the Goat poll, featuring hilarious bios for each goat
  • Using goats as natural weed-wackers is a healthier, more eco-friendly alternative to weed-killing, harmful pesticides, the RPC says

Two weeks after hiring some “very special summer interns” to clear invasive species from Riverside Park, the Riverside Park Conservancy had to lay off six of its 24 new goat hires.

The cutbacks are a result of the new employees doing their job a little too well. The natural weed-whackers consumed so much of the aggressive weeds in such a short amount of time that was not necessary for the RPC to keep them on for the rest of the summer to finish the job, it said.

Tired from the fast work, the goats were caught sleeping on the job by visitors Tuesday afternoon – not the impression you want to make on the individuals deciding the fate of your career.

Using the Vote the G.O.A.T. poll on the RPC website, the people have the power to decide which goats continue feasting on a mouthwatering menu of poison ivy for another month and which will go back home to graze in Rhinebeck, New York.

To help voters decide which goats make the cut, the RPC provides short bios in the park and online for each of the goats. From detailing the goats’ celebrity crushes and dream dates to their guilty pleasures and Game of Thrones houses, these profiles give voters a sense of what each goat brings to the table and why they deserve to stay in the concrete jungle.

Brooklyn resident Tiffany Clifton, 36, said the funny profiles, comparable to those one may find on a dating service, sparked her interest in the program. “They make the goats like humans almost,” Clifton said. “...They each have their own personalities and characteristics and you can relate to them. It makes me want to jump over the fence and hug them.”

At the end of June, the RPC will reduce the flock number from 18 to four to six. The second series of layoffs will require a final vote of the top goats, and residents can finally decide who is the greatest goat of all time.

The RPC hired these skilled climbers to remove dangerous plants from hard-to-reach areas across the grounds. This method of park preservation eliminates the need for weed-killing pesticides, which can have negative short and long-term effects of human health, it said. 

The goats have taken Gotham by storm, promoting the park to new visitors and providing a creative example of how to manage parks in a more ecofriendly way, said RPC President Dan Garodnick. He said some visitors have even made catching up with the goats a part of their daily routines, taking their morning cup of coffee alongside their furry friends.

“People are loving the fact that they can have a new connection to their park,” Garodnick said. “Using goats for horticultural care is not very unique in most parts of the country, but to do it right in the heart of the Upper West Side of Manhattan makes it kind of a big deal.”

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