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JFK Is About To Become Even More Of A Zoo, With A New Terminal Just For Animals


Equine facilities at the ARK. (Image courtesy of ARK Development LLC)

Modern air travel leaves many of us feeling like animals. New York City’s John F. Kennedy airport, already infamous for complex check-in and security lines that herd paying customers together like cattle, has now taken this business model to heart.

Under construction in the disused Building 78 on the sprawling JFK airfield is the ARK, a luxury terminal built specifically for animals. The new terminal is set to replace Vetport, the aging, 1950s-built veterinary shelter at the airport.

While other airport veterinary shelters exist across the U.S.A, JFK airport handles the bulk of animals entering the United States, and not just a few of them. Over 70,000 animals fly in and out of the airport every year, so the capacity upgrades of the ARK are sorely needed. Live animals are fragile cargo though, and can’t just be treated like oversized suitcases. 

The ARK, which is slated to open sometime in 2016, will have a 24/7 veterinary clinic staffed by the Cornell Veterinary College, and a host of other slightly ridiculous features. The crown jewel of the ARK will be a 20,000 square foot “resort” for dogs run by Paradise 4 Paws, which plans to offer doggie suites for around $100 per night. Amenities include pools, “pawdicures,” and even flat screen TVs for the canine travelers. Anxious owners can check their dog’s wellbeing via webcam. 


The doggie play area complete with bone-shaped swimming pools. (Image courtesy of ARK Development, LLC) 

Flying with your pet, or moving working animals, is a difficult and costly procedure. Transporting animals across international borders comes with even more rules–it is a regulatory nightmare. 

Some animals, like horses, are quarantined by law, and subject to full medical examinations to ensure they will not spread any infectious diseases upon arrival. Exotic creatures like big cats and birds (and larger dogs) must be sent as cargo, and need to be housed somewhere other than the baggage claim before they are picked up by their owners.

The cattle corral in ARK, designed in part by Temple Grandin. (Image courtesy of ARK Development, LLC)

Beyond the Paradise 4 Paws resort, the ARK will have in-terminal trees for cats to get stuck in, an aviary, and the ability to house up to 180 cattle in corrals designed by animal expert and activist Temple Grandin–not to mention specially designed “poo chutes” to handle the huge volume of waste that thousands of pets will naturally produce while in transit. 

The next time you are stuck in an airport feeling like a sheep, just remember that at JFK, the animals have it better than you do. 


A space for all horses at the ARK. (Image courtesy of ARK Development, LLC)