If nature is healing, the goats in Riverside Park have returned to make sure it doesn’t go too far.

The Riverside Park Conservancy has brought back a herd of goats for a second round of “Goatham,” where about two dozen of the hoofed helpers will devour the poison ivy in the hilly fenced-in area stretching alongside Riverside Drive from 119th to 125th Street.

The park kicked off Goatham on Wednesday with a ceremonial “Running of the Goats” with the animals traipsing down stairs while spectators watched from behind wooden barriers.

People and media look at the goats in the park; the tall trees in the park are green

A media scrum for the goats

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A media scrum for the goats
Courtesy of Riverside Park Conservancy

After similar programs in Prospect Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park were successful, Riverside Park officials brought in two dozen goats in 2019 to tackle poison ivy in sections where mowers and gardeners couldn’t access.

“The goats, who have all retired from former careers, are from a local farm,” the Riverside Park Conservancy said on its website. “They have taken up residency for the summer on sloped terrain that is rife with invasive plants. Since goats are naturally effective weed whackers, putting than to work in Goatham is like treating them to an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s hearty for the goats and good for the environment.”

Last year, the program was suspended because of the pandemic. The goats' return this year was heralded by a giant Times Square billboard in April.

“You’ve seen Cats, now come see our Goats,” said Dan Garodnick, President & CEO of Riverside Park Conservancy, in a statement. “It is fitting that the insanely popular Riverside Park goats would light up Broadway in celebration of their big arrival.”

“Like the annual reemergence of the Swallows in Capistrano, Manhattan now has its very own traditional migration legend – the return of our beloved goats to Riverside Park,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

A goat gnawing on some weeds

Hooray, goat!

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Hooray, goat!
Courtesy of Riverside Park Conservancy

In a nod to our current political landscape, the goats will be vying again for the title of G.O.A.T. in a new “Fabulous Five” ranked-choice system that organizers said will proceed “without any confusion or controversy,” unlike human elections.

“Our ranked choice voting system will go off without a hitch and the GOAT will be crowned without any confusion or controversy by the end of the summer,” Garodnick said in a press release. “We encourage New Yorkers to come meet the “Fabulous Five” in person and to pay attention to our social media channels as the goats roll out their platforms.”

See more about the candidates here.