First-Class Animal Transit Hub Coming to JFK

Dogs, horses, cattle and other animals will be processed and receive veterinary care at The Ark at JFK starting in 2016.

Export stalls for horses are seen in an artist’s rendering of The Ark at JFK.

ARK Development LLC

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The barking of dogs and the bellowing of cattle will compete with the roar of aircraft when The Ark at JFK opens in early 2016 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

A 178,000-square-foot animal handling, quarantine and veterinary operation is being built on the site of a vacant air cargo building in a $48 million project designed to ease the shipment of pets, horses, birds and livestock into and out of the Big Apple.

An around-the-clock veterinary hospital will provide everything from general and internal medical services to emergency and critical care, surgery and advanced diagnostics.

Overseeing the medicine side will be Lifecare Veterinary Health System, whose partners include Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, the Veterinary Referral Center in Pennsylvania and East End Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center in New York.

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine assisted with the design of the privately owned Ark at JFK.

“We developed The Ark concept to address the unmet needs for the import and export of companion, sporting and agricultural animals,” said founder John J. Cuticelli Jr., the chairman of Racebrook Capital. “The animal terminal will set new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services.”

The real estate company’s development arm signed a 30-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to build and operate The Ark at JFK on the airport’s north side.

Besides serving animals arriving from or heading overseas, the complex will include something for local pet owners: Paradise 4 Paws, a 20,000-square-foot boarding, grooming and training facility.

A selling point for The Ark at JFK will be its runway-adjacent location.

“The design allows planes to taxi directly to the building so horses can be transported in a seamless fashion that reduces stress,” said Lachlan Oldaker of GH2 Gralla Equine Architects.

A departure area will provide horses with stalls, food and water. An arrival area will be where horses are examined before going to climate-controlled stalls.

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A livestock-handling area designed by Colorado State University Professor Temple Grandin, Ph.D., will accommodate cattle, goats, pigs and sheep.

Animals that need to be moved to aircraft or terminals away from The Ark at JFK will be transported in climate-controlled vehicles.

A lot of thought went into the project, said Cliff Bollmann of master architect Gensler & Associates.

“Gensler is accustomed to designing airports with an eye to fostering well-being for people, yet The Ark at JFK posed a unique design challenge for us: to create a place that could ease and simplify the sometimes complex process of transporting animals by plane,” Bollmann said. “For the animals who pass through The Ark, as well as the people who own them, air travel can be stressful and confusing.” 

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