With all of the bad in the world, amidst the hurricanes and forest fires and earthquakes, we have this: The New York City Parks Department has opened a brand new place in Queens that will house “retired” playground animals, so that they can live on and be enjoyed by all in peace and quiet, forever.
The “Home for Retired Playground Animals” is now located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in New York City, and is described by NYC parks as “a passive, contemplative new area adjacent to the Unisphere.”
On Friday, the parks service held a “retirement party,” complete with party hats and cake for the initial six animals who will live in the park, and welcomed the animals to their new home.
The animals, which have spent decades on the job entertaining kids across New York City, include one aardvark, one camel, one frog, one elephant, and two dolphins.
Sure, they look a little worse for the wear, but in a totally adorable way, like your kid’s most-loved stuffed animal.
“At NYC Parks, our civil servants take many forms: not only park workers, but also the beloved concrete animals children have been playing on for decades in our playgrounds across the city,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said in a press release. “We’re so excited to unveil this new contemplative space in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, as we send some of our hardest-working employees into retirement in style. We hope that despite their retirement, they will continue to inspire imagination and creativity in park-goers into the future.”
For some of the animals, like the aardvark, the park includes a sign that says, “Do not climb on the animals — they are retired,” due to the animal’s stability issues.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park is one of the biggest and most famous parks in the city. The home of two past World Fairs, the park boasts lakes, trails, sports fields, and cultural institutions, and a recreation center.
According to Time Out New York, the animal sculptures were created when former parks commissioner Henry Stern asked designers to incorporate animal art into every new playground in the 1980s and 90s. As these parks become renovated, the old animals are losing their homes — until now. As future animals become displaced, they’ll have a cozy home to look forward to.
The park service noted that the animals are not the only new addition to the park. In anticipation of the incoming menagerie, they have also added benches (for “contemplation”) and a new wheelchair-accessible pathway. In the near future, more trees and landscaping will be added as well.