Goats of Anarchy

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Goats of Anarchy

Rescue Lamb Starts Cuddly Friendship with Disabled Duck: 'This Relationship Is Very Special'

Gigi the lamb and Merlin the duck both reside at the Goats of Anarchy sanctuary in Hampton, New Jersey

By Kelli Bender September 10, 2020 05:20 PM

Adorable things are happening in the fields of Goats of Anarchy (GOA).

GOA is a 30-acre farm animal sanctuary in Hampton, New Jersey, that is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of goats with special needs, and is home to over 130 animals, including goats, horses, donkeys, cows, alpacas, sheep, pigs, turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens.

Leanne Lauricella, the founder and president of GOA, has seen many things since starting the non-profit in 2014, but something special has recently taken her by surprise.

Gigi a 7-month-old lamb with an "old soul" has been living with GOA's blind goat herd and "acts as a mom to some of them."

"She plays gently with the babies and cuddles the ones who need it," Lauricella told PEOPLE.

Recently, Gigi, who arrived at GOA hours after her birth, has found that someone else at the sanctuary needs cuddles: Merlin the disabled duck.

"He has an injured leg and is not able to walk. We did try a prosthesis, a wheelchair, and splinting, but none of these options worked for him," the founder said of Merlin, a two-year resident at GOA. "Merlin can't walk, but loves hanging out in his pool. You can find him either splashing around, hanging out in his special chair, or sunbathing in the grass with friends."

It was one day while Merlin was sunbathing on the grass that Gigi decided to make her first move

"A couple of weeks ago, we spotted Gigi laying next to Merlin in the grass and we thought it was so cute. We weren't too surprised because Gigi is such a cuddler but thought it was just a one-time occurrence, " Lauricella said. "But the next day, she did it again."

Gigi stopped by Merlin's sunbathing spot for cuddles again and again and again, until it became clear that some quality snuggle time with Merlin was now part of her daily schedule.

"Every day, Gigi visits Merlin out in the grass and curls up next to him," Lauricella added. "It's like she is trying to comfort him. At first, he seemed a little annoyed but now he grooms her and snuggles with her. They have developed a friendship and it's unlike anything we've seen on the farm."

Interspecies friendships on the farm are rare since the animals at GOA are often separated by species for their care, which makes the fact that Gigi sought out Merlin even more heart-warmingly unique.

"This relationship is very special," GOA's president said.

The ability to witness ridiculously precious moments like this is one of the many reasons Lauricella, who also advocates for animal rights and promotes veganism through GOA, started the sanctuary.

"At GOA, we rescue animals that have been neglected, abused, or discarded. Around 25 of our goats wear prosthetic devices, and we have a barn full of goats who use wheelchairs. We have a herd of blind goats, several blind horses, and even a cow and a sheep who wear prosthetic devices," she said. "Five of the most challenged goats even live in my house with me. Our mission is to help these animals, but in doing so, we help ourselves and our followers and supporters. Watching these animals fight for their lives and seeing what they overcome is so inspiring."

Lauricella hopes that GOA's many supporters will have a chance to see Gigi and Merlin's blossoming friendships in-person someday soon, but, to slow the spread of COVID-19, GOA is currently closed to the public, aside from regularly scheduled weekly staff and volunteers.

"We hope that this will change in the next few months because we love having visitors. We feel it's so important for people to experience farm animals in person because our guests are usually amazed at how social the animals are," Lauricella said.

GOA, a non-profit, depends on donations to operate, and, like many animal rescues, has experienced a dip in donations during the pandemic.

"Because so many people are struggling financially, we are definitely feeling the effects of that. Donations are slowing and like many nonprofits, we rely solely on donations," Lauricella said. "We promised our animal residents that we would give them the best possible care, and we will do everything we can to fulfil that promise, even during a pandemic. We have been working hard to find creative ways to fundraise using various social media platforms and even virtual tours."

To help support GOA during the pandemic, and to stay up to date on Gigi and Merlin's friendship, follow the sanctuary on Instagram and Facebook. You can also donate directly to GOA through their website.

https://goatsofanarchy.com/

Meet the Woman Who Gave Up Everything to Save Special-Needs Goats: 'It's Not Work; It's My Passion'

Leanne Lauricella runs a goat sanctuary in New Jersey where she rehabilitates 85 Instagram-famous special-needs goats
By Madison Roberts September 17, 2018 04:39 PM

Leanne Lauricella gave up a cushy life in New York City and a six-figure salary to follow her passion for rehabilitating goats in need — and accidentally found Instagram fame along the way.

The corporate events planner, now 44, was used to a lifestyle where she could get her hair and nails done and dress up for cocktail parties when she moved to Oxford, New Jersey, in 2014 with her husband.

She passed goat farms every day on her way to and from N.Y.C., and one day, she visited one with her husband.

“I just fell in love,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “A short time later, I came home with two baby goats.”

She soon found she just couldn’t stop adopting them, and brought home three more goats within three months.

“The more time I spent outside working with them and cleaning and picking up poop, I loved it,” she says. “I became a crazy goat person. I just didn’t want to go to work anymore.”

She made two big life changes around the same time.

One day, a co-worker brought the often horrific practices of factory farming to her attention and after googling and watching videos, Lauricella decided she could no longer eat meat.

“I became vegetarian on the way home from work that day,” she says.

Soon after, she quit her corporate job, went from vegetarian to vegan, and traded in her Mercedes for a tractor. “I went from making six figures to zero figures — I was terrified,” Lauricella says.

She also started an Instagram account for her goats. In trying to come up with names for her new pets, Lauricella turned to the show she was binge-watching at the time, Sons of Anarchy. After naming her first five goats after characters from the show, she decided to name her goat Instagram page Goats of Anarchy.

On her first day of unemployment, Lauricella’s Instagram had 2,000 followers, but then Instagram featured two of her goats, Jax and Opie, on its main page.

“I got like, 30,000 or 40,000 new followers that day,” she says. “And it happened to be the first day of me not having a job, so I was like, ‘Okay, it’s a sign.'”

That same year, Lauricella was asked to foster two goats, Ansel and Petal, who were sick with e.coli., recently rescued from an animal cruelty case.

“I had no intentions of ever getting any more goats,” Lauricella says. “I was good with my five. I said I would foster them and they were super sick, like on death’s door. I rehabilitated them and loved it.”

Now, she runs a goat sanctuary in Hampton, New Jersey, where she rehabilitates 85 Instagram-famous special-needs goats that farms with fewer resources might have to euthanize.

Her Instagram has 565,000 followers, and her social media fans help pay for care and surgeries for the herd, many of whom have lost limbs to frostbite and use wheeled carts or prostheses to get around.

“People don’t realize goats have such personalities,” she says. “They have best friends. They have feelings.”

Lauricella also receives charitable donations via the funding site Patreon and writes children's books, but money is still tight. Around the time she started Goats of Anarchy, Lauricella’s husband gave up his job on Wall Street to pursue his own dreams: selling custom Corvettes. Between the two of them, Lauricella says they took nearly an 80 percent pay cut.

“I haven’t been on vacation in five years,” she says. “But it’s not work. It’s just my life, and it’s my passion.”

For more on Goats of Anarchy, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

ANSEL THE DESTROYER

anon (not verified)
I'm glad articles like this are posted

This is more anarchist than some self-denominated anarchist projects, more anarchist than what mainstream media claims anarchy is. Many anarchists are going around too afraid to use the word in their projects or zines because it would scare off normies, and here you have a "normie" carrying out a successful anarchist project with anarchy prominently in its name.

A lot of common people appropriate the word anarchy to do or say non-anarchist things, it's nice to see and celebrate when a normie actually uses it in a way that is more fitting. Some anarchist outlets are covering mutual aid projects that have "anarchy" nowhere in the name or sentiment. Here you have a literal example of mutual aid, as Kropotkin described in the wild, inter-species cooperation and mutual assistance and care. This is a sanctuary, not a farm, a place for animals to live happy lives, not be exploited as resources like some proponents of autonomy are eager to do. And we all have much to learn from the great Anselm The Destroyer.

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