In case you haven’t heard, California’s engulfed in what has become its annual fire season. This is no joke to expatriate California natives like me, who spend a little time each day praying for the health of firefighters, the preservation of irreplaceable forests and their inhabitants, and of course, anxiously texting everyone we know who might be affected by this catastrophe. So it’s nice to have a bit of positive information to share: a team of goats has saved the day for a few major cultural institutions.
As reported by BBC News, the preventive 13-acre brush-clearing around the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, performed in May by a herd of 500 goats belonging to the Thousand Oaks-based 805 Goats, created a critical fire break that enabled firefighters to hold at bay the wildfires that threatened the library. The Getty Museum also attributes their stay of execution-by-fire to brush-clearing performed by staff earlier in the year, but there were no goats involved. At $1,000-per-acre, it seems like a bargain to have scrub cleared by professionals like Nibbles, Selena Goatmez, and of course Vincent van Goat. 805 founder Scott Morris told the BBC that he expects to have to double his herd to meet demand as California wildfires become a part of the seasonal cycle.
Meanwhile, the goats have helped, for now, to save artifacts on display at the Reagan Library, including pieces of the Berlin Wall and a traveling Egypt’s Lost Cities exhibition containing an array of ancient statuary. Some need advanced art history degrees and years of training to preserve cultural artifacts; others just need to be goats.