Milton has a brand new greatest pal — a fellow goat with mobility points named Harley.
He is “doing great” adjusting to his new surroundings, Goats of Anarchy founder Leanne Lauricella was blissful to report.
Animal advocates hope to quickly share comparable information for the handfuls of different animals that dwell at Johnson Park zoo, an “animal haven” in Piscataway that was hit arduous throughout Tropical Storm Ida.
Middlesex County confirmed no animals died, had been injured or went lacking at Johnson Park amid the Sept. 1 storm. However, the free-of-charge petting zoo — positioned on the expansive 478-acre park — was inundated through the lethal storm when the close by Raritan River rose to report ranges. Officials confirmed a pig died at Merrill Park in Woodbridge, which additionally homes animals in the county.
The affect of the storm on Johnson Park — a recurring theme there for many years — has spurred no less than two petitions asking for the zoo to be shuttered in the curiosity of the animals. Nearly 9,000 folks have signed the decision to motion and a brand new group, Friends of the Johnson Park Animals, has taken the lead on coordinating efforts.
In the month after the storm hit, the group has held two protests and spoken at commissioner’s conferences about zoo situations, hoping animals are moved earlier than the subsequent pure catastrophe.
The park zoo is positioned inside a flood plain and the animals must be relocated, animals activists mentioned. Some have additionally mentioned that they’re doubtful about assurances from the county that no animals went lacking through the storm — noting that no less than one fallow deer was reported out of its enclosure.
An electronic mail response to an OPRA request, a replica of which was supplied to NJ Advance Media, additionally said that veterinary information previous to Ida had been destroyed through the flooding. Medical assessments after Ida weren’t instantly out there, however the county mentioned no animals had been damage in the storm.
So far 14 organizations in New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania mentioned they’re keen to take the animals in. It is unclear what number of animals are housed on the park zoo. A roster supplied to the Friends of the Johnson Park Animals positioned the determine at over 90, together with birds, turkeys, deer, goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, horses and alpacas.
Sonya Elefante, a volunteer for Friends of the Johnson Park Animals, mentioned prices related to a possible transfer are still being decided. However, she expects transport to be the one expense the county might have to shoulder.
Jenna Trent, one other lead organizer, has reached out to over 30 sanctuaries and animal organizations. She mentioned Friday that extra are anticipated to return on board quickly as properly.
“We need to make sure they’re equipped to handle the animals,” mentioned Trent. “We’re very hopeful these animals will actually be moved and have great lives without the stress of (dealing with flooding).”
Trent, who has beforehand volunteered for different New Jersey animal shelters, estimated that 81 animals have been assigned new houses inside per week of relocation efforts beginning. Thus far, the next shelters have agreed to deal with animals:
- Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary – Newton
- Live Free Farm – Skillman
- Freedom Farm Animal Rescue – Cedarville
- Sowa Goat Sanctuary – Harvard, Massachusetts
- Huckleberry Trails Animal Sanctuary – Shermans Dale, Pennsylvania
- Baling Twine and Hope — Frenchtown
- Little Buckets Farm Sanctuary — Brodnax, Virginia
- Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary — Mays Landing
- Rancho Relaxo — Woodstown
- Orphan Anni-mals Farm Sanctuary — Glen Garden
- RJ Stokley’s Celestial Acres — Long Valley
- Next Level reptile Enclosures — Lacey Township
- JustBe Farm — Hamilton
- Uncle Neil’s Home — Maple Shade
Middlesex County officers didn’t reply to repeated requests for remark. Rick Lear, director of Middlesex County workplace of parks and recreation, beforehand launched a press release, saying workers was on-site the evening of Ida to safeguard the animals. Small animals had been moved out of the park zoo through the flooding, he mentioned.
“The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife conducted an inspection of Johnson Park Zoo on Sept. 30, following up on reported concerns for the animals’ safety resulting from flooding caused by Ida. The DEP inspected captive exotic and game animals under DFW jurisdiction, as well as domestic animals covered by United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA conducted a separate inspection of animals under its jurisdiction the previous day,” mentioned New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Lawrence Hajna.
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife discovered no animals had been harmed, Hajna mentioned.
A spokesman from the United States Department of Agriculture mentioned its inspection is still pending.
A county official informed NJ Advance Media on the finish of September that the zoo is staffed seven days per week all year long and acts as a needed-resource for animals which can in any other case be euthanized or despatched into the wild the place they’d be in danger.
The county is evaluating its emergency response effort through the storm, an official mentioned.
Trent, among the many animal activists, mentioned whereas the Friends of Johnson Park Animals is uncertain in regards to the applicable approvals wanted to maneuver the animals, they had been informed to offer data to Lear for him to current to the board of commissioners.
“I would definitely say we’re optimistic based on the fact that Rick Lear indicated that our goals seem to be aligned. I was really happy to hear him say that. Hopefully, we can move forward, and we can find a good solution to keep these animals safe,” Highland Park resident and Friends of the Johnson Park Animals organizer Ashley Ariel mentioned.
Asked in regards to the security of the animals throughout Thursday’s board of commissioner’s assembly, Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald Rios mentioned the county’s purpose is to “keep the animals safe and healthy.”
“(Lear) had multiple conversations with people that were spokespersons for the animals and right now he’s in the process of researching data and he will present to the board of commissioners on what options we have … and we will make a determination of what we’re going to do moving forward,” mentioned Rios.
When a resident requested if the presentation shall be made publicly, Rios mentioned, “the county will make a public announcement about what we’re going to do.”
Our journalism wants your help. Please subscribe as we speak to NJ.com.
Steven Rodas could also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.