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Don’t worry, they’re not out there today in the crazy snow that’s blowing through Illinois, but I was surprised to learn that Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) has a herd of grazing goats, llamas, donkeys, sheep, and alpacas that help to maintain the landscaping at this busy airport.
The animals are hired from a company called Vegetation Solutions, which is based in Wisconsin. They’re brought out to clear away scrub vegetation and keep the grounds clear on the 11.5 acres of land on the north side of the airfield. Each year they are brought to the airport to work on eating excess plant life and then they’re taken back to Wisconsin for the fall and winter.
O'Hare International Airport's (Chicago) landscaping team consists of 30 grazing animals; goats, sheep, llamas, burros, and alpacas pic.twitter.com/6Q9MyGZrMv
— UberFacts (@UberFacts) January 12, 2024
This program has been going on since 2013 and is part of the Sustainable Vegetation Management initiative, which is the first of its kind at a US airport. While lawnmowers and maintenance crews manage the landscaping that most passengers around the airport, the grazing animals stick to the hilly terrain around Willow-Higgins Creek. The eaten vegetation removes habitats for birds and squirrels (which would not be safe near the airport). It also minimizes the use of toxic chemicals and saves crews from having to clean up debris.
Anthony’s Take: This is so cool. I am going to be on the lookout for the herd this summer. It’s good to hear that the animals don’t mind the noise and this is an environmentally friendly way to keep the grounds clear.
(Image Credits: Chicago Department of Aviation/KP)
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