Photo: Paul Chinn / The Chronicle
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Goats are having a moment right now.
Last weekend, San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market transformed into a goat utopia: a goat petting zoo, goat cheese tastings, a goat milk cooking demonstration, and goat arts and crafts took over the farmers market. This was the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture’s (CUESA) Tenth Annual Goat Festival. Tonight, the California Academy of Sciences is hosting its own goat-themed NightLife (the San Francisco museum’s weekly after-dark event for the 21-plus).
Naturally, one would assume these events might have some correlation, but CUESA and CAS actually were unaware of the others’ goat-related plans until recently. California Academy of Sciences chose its goat theme based on a crowd-sourced poll in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of NightLife. They asked the people what they wanted, and the people answered: goats.
“We gave them five choices and one was goats, just because I had seen goat yoga before, and animals tend to do really well with our audience,” said Cate Van Dyke, the NightLife program manager. “So we put that one amongst some other choices, and goat NightLife ran away with it.”
Goat NightLife will include opportunities to meet and pet goats from Goatlandia and Little Explorers, goat cheese tastings, and a kickoff for the City Nature Challenge 2019, in which San Francisco residents can get involved with documenting nature in their urban environment.
“There’s a rising interest in goats both with the sort of cultural fascination, but also the milk and cheeses,” explained Brie Mazurek, CUESA’s communications director.
CUESA’s Goat Festival was a little ahead of the curve, having initially launched ten years ago. According to Mazurek, it really grew in popularity three years ago, when the Facebook event for the 2015 festival went viral. Thousands of people followed the event and started posting funny goat memes and videos.
“When we first started, it was just one tent of goats and a couple of food tastings,” she recalled. “Now, we have to have ticketing for goat petting, and there’s a lot more activity. It’s been great.”
So, why are goats so trendy right now?
“There’s something about them being kind of these carefree, goofy animals that are still cute, that people really respond to — similar to the internet cat video,” speculated Van Dyke. “Also, springtime brings images of goats, farms, green grass and rolling hills.”
And then there’s the environmental aspect: grazing goats are a sustainable form of groundskeeping, and are lighter on the earth than other livestock.
For CUESA, Mazurek said this enthusiasm for goats is a great energy they’ve been able to channel into educating people about sustainable agriculture.
“I think what it really speaks to, particularly in San Francisco, is that people are really hungry for a connection to nature, to agriculture, and to animals,” she explained. Farmers markets, she added, are a wonderful way to bridge that gap between city dwellers and local farmers.
Plus, baby goats are just plain adorable.
“Baby goats are really sweet — they’re almost like puppies. People just light up holding a baby goat,” said Mazurek.
If you’re starting to feel baby goat fever, the California Academy of Sciences might be able to fill that void tonight. And if you miss it, don’t worry — this certainly won’t be the last goat event you’ll see in the coming months.
“Goats are not going anywhere,” predicted Mazurek. “People really love them.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/pet-goats-california-academy-of-sciences-nightlife-13778423.php.