In what's being touted as the first of its kind, John F. Kennedy International Airport will soon open a new terminal dedicated entirely to animals.

Called "The Ark," the $48 million, 178,000-square-foot multi-purpose animal handling and air cargo facility will include a large animal departure and arrival lounge, an overnight pet resort run by Paradise 4 Paws, and an East End Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center. Quarantine and transport services for both large and small animals will also be provided — including birds, snakes and other critters. It's expected that The Ark will handle at least 70,000 domestic and wild animals annually.

"For the animals who pass through The Ark, as well as the people who own them, air travel can be stressful and confusing," Cliff Bollmann, an architect at Gensler, one of the firms designing the facility, told The Independent. “Our design team sought to create a comfortable, healthy environment for them all."

A rendering of The Ark's livestock handling system, designed by Temple Grandin.

A rendering of the livestock handling system, which was designed by Temple Grandin. (Photo: The Ark)

Unlike what humans have to endure in some terminals around the world, the well-being of animals within The Ark will be a top concern. So as not to discomfort some species, transport from aircraft, terminals, or cargo areas will take place in climate-controlled vehicles. “The design allows planes to taxi directly to the building, so horses can be transported in a seamless fashion that reduces stress,” Lachlan Oldaker of Gralla Equine Architects told the Equine Chronicle. In addition, the design of the livestock transport handling system is being spearheaded by animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin.

Over the course of its planned 30-year lease in the long-empty Cargo Building 78 at JFK, The Ark will create roughly 180 full-time jobs and generate revenues estimated at $108 million for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

"ARK’s investment of $48 million into JFK will transform an airport structure that has been vacant for nearly 10 years into a world-class specialty cargo facility, and the agreement guarantees the Port Authority more than $100 million in revenue without any additional capital investment," Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said in a statement.

The Ark is expected to start operations at JFK Airport in 2016.

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