Last summer, New York’s Kennedy Airport was invaded by turtles—more than 100 of the diamondback terrapins slowly made their way across the tarmac, causing flight delays and generally wreaking havoc at the busy airport. What a difference a year makes.
At a news conference on September 20, 2012, Port Authority commissioners approved plans for a world class, $32 million animal handling facility at JFK. Terrapins welcome!
The new facility, dubbed ARK, will handle roughly 70,000 domestic and wild animals annually. The center will set new national airport standards for a three-day equine quarantine area, dog and cat kenneling and grooming services, an aviary, lawn space for exercising animals, and a comprehensive veterinary hospital and rehabilitation center for horses and other large animals. There will be no animal testing done at the facility.
ARK will offer a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, animal daycare services, and more efficient ways to transport animals worldwide, including exotic species. ARK Development LLC will take over the currently vacant Building 78 at JFK and 14.4 acres of ground area as part of a 20-year agreement, in which the company will invest approximately $30 million in the 108,650 square-foot main center and another $2 million in a 63,515 square-foot cargo handling facility.
The new ARK will offer a wider array of services than those of the current Vetport, which is located at JFK’s Building 189, and operations will transition without interruption. ARK services will satisfy the present and future needs of airport stakeholders and customers.
While there are animal handling facilities at both Los Angeles and Miami’s airports, ARK at JFK will be larger and offer more comprehensive services than the other two. Additionally, ARK is in extended negotiations with Cornell’s veterinary school, which would serve as the consultant on the project and the operator of the large animal hospital.