By: Brittany Bevis
It’s no secret that air travel can be stressful. The time spent in line at check-in, going through security, and potential flight delays are enough to make even the most seasoned traveler a bit cranky.
Now, imagine you’re a 16 hand, 1,500 lb. horse on your way to an important competition. What if they don’t serve your favorite sweet feed in coach or they lose your lucky tack in transit? It’s a shame there isn’t an airline especially dedicated to our furry, four-legged friends…
JFK International Airport is taking a step in the right direction with the creation of the world’s only privately owned animal handling cargo terminal and USDA-approved, full service 24-hour airport quarantine facility for the import and export of horses, pets, birds, and livestock.
Appropriately named “The Ark,” the $48 million, 178,000 square foot, state-of-the-art complex will be divided into three sections: air cargo, an administrative and business center with 24-hour veterinary hospital, and an animal handling facility with boarding, animal import and export center, and livestock export handling system.
Just a few days ago, ARK Development, LLC, an affiliate of Racebrook Capital, announced it had signed a 30-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to construct The Ark at JFK at the current site of Cargo Building 78. The complex will be spread over 14.4 acres of surrounding area, which will include direct access to the taxiway.
“We developed The Ark concept to address the unmet needs for the import and export of companion, sporting and agricultural animals,” says The ARK at JFK Founder John J. Cuticelli, Jr. “The animal terminal will set new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services.”
Several industry experts in architecture and agriculture have come on board to assist with the design and construction of The Ark. Among those include master architect Gensler, equine-specialty architect Gralla Equine Architects, Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, a special livestock handling system designed by Professor Temple Grandin will ensure the safety and comfort of livestock during the boarding process.
Gensler Architect Cliff Bollmann addresses the unique challenges presented by this project. “For the animals who pass through The Ark, as well as the people who own them, air travel can be stressful and confusing. Aligning the needs of quarantine with kenneling and elevating the experience for animals and their owners, our design team sought to create a comfortable, healthy environment for them all.”
Ms. Lachlan Oldaker of Gralla Equine Architects speaks about the amenities that will be available to equine guests of The Ark. “The ARK at JFK represents an enormous leap forward in the care and comfort of horses and cattle that travel through the airport,” she says. “The design allows planes to taxi directly to the building, so horses can be transported in a seamless fashion that reduces stress.”
Horses preparing for their trip will have access to well-appointed stalls with food and water in the large animal departure lounge. Horses arriving at The Ark will have their vitals taken before being escorted to individual climate controlled stalls.
“This really is a worry-free, one-stop shop for passengers and animals, thanks to the various on-site offerings, including Paradise 4 Paws, an aviary, and a veterinarian,” Oldaker says.
What’s Paradise 4 Paws? This unique company will bring a 20,000-square foot, 24-hour pet resort to The Ark complete with overnight accommodations for dogs and cats, daycare, training, and grooming. In addition, veterinary services including general medicine, ER, critical care, surgery, and advanced diagnostics will be provided 24/7, 365 days a year by LIFECARETM.
“We are excited to embark upon such a game-changing development, which will revolutionize the care of animals in an aviation environment,” says Dr. Aaron S. Perl, Founder and Managing Director of The ARK at JFK. “We are proud to have brought together one of the most prestigious project development teams in the field to bring this vision to life.”
With all of these incredible amenities in store we’re sure your pets will be begging to become a member of the furry, four-legged, frequent flier program coming soon to JFK.