Lonely Planet Writer

Pets get the first class treatment in New York at JFK's private animal terminal

Travelling with a pet can be stressful for both owner and animal, but a new facility at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport aims to make the process much easier. The ARK at JFK is the world’s first privately-owned animal terminal, catering to large and small animals alike.

Inside the Ark at JFK.
Inside the Ark at JFK. Image by The Ark

Racebrook, the company behind the ARK, is rolling out its services in three phases. Available to travellers flying on any airline and open around the clock, phase one includes the Pet Oasis that offers in-transit companion animal handling and kennelling. Set to open early this year, phase two is the ARK import-export centre, with Equine Quarantine and Import, Grooms’ Lounge, and the ARK Aviary, and finally, later this year the facility will welcome a veterinary clinic, a veterinary blood laboratory, and pet boarding and grooming facility. Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are among the ARK’s partners.

Inside the Ark at JFK
Inside the Ark at JFK Image by The Ark

“We developed the ARK concept to address the unmet needs for the import and export of companion, sporting and agricultural animals,” said John J. Cuticelli, Jr., CEO of Racebrook and Founder and Chairman of ARK Development. “Our goal is to create a more efficient and safe process by reducing the need for additional travel and offering trained animal care staff immediately pre- and post-flight.”

A photo posted by The ARK at JFK (@arkjfk) on Feb 3, 2017 at 1:25pm PST

Since opening phase one in early January, the 178,000-square-foot space has welcomed rabbits, military dogs, horses, birds, and both canine and feline pets, with more exotic animals anticipated when the full facility is open. For large animals flying out of JFK, there’s a “departures lounge” where horses and livestock can relax pre-flight while their travel documents are being processed, and animals of all sizes are taken to their gate right before takeoff, avoiding the standard cargo facilities. Animals arriving in New York are lovingly transported directly from the aircraft or other airport locations to the facility, where they can de-stress with a bath and meal. With over 14 acres of grounds, there’s plenty of space for animals to stretch their legs on a stroll, too. With the current state of flying, the ARK at JFK is giving animals a travel experience most humans would appreciate.

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