This past spring, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, decided to prepare for the possibility of wildfires by clearing flammable brush around the perimeter. Instead of dousing it in herbicide or preemptively burning it away with controlled fire, they simply ushered in 500 very hungry goats.
According to Smithsonian.com, Vincent Van Goat, Selena Goatmez, and other aptly named ungulates are part of a service called 805 Goats, which offers a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly method of clearing land by which herds of goats eat every plant in sight.
Now surrounded by barren land, the institution watched several months pass without a fire—until last Wednesday, when library curator Randle Swan arrived on the premises and spotted California’s Easy Fire not too far off. He later told NBC Los Angeles that they had actually planned an emergency drill for that day.
CNN reports that although Simi Valley police mandated evacuations, some security workers, the library director, the facility manager, and the head curator all stayed on site to fortify artifacts against the approaching blaze. Along with records from Reagan’s political career, the library contains Nancy Reagan’s wedding ring, dresses, and many other personal belongings. The graves of both Reagans are also on the grounds.
Firefighting aircrafts and trucks steadily soaked the area with water in an attempt to stave off creeping flames.
"It's a pretty tough situation here, there's never been fires this close to the library," the library's executive director John Heubusch told KTLA. "It's a place of national treasure, and the flames are licking right up against it."
Both the parking lot and the heroic efforts of firefighters undoubtedly kept the wildfires from reaching the library and museum, but the goats’ earlier enterprise definitely didn’t go unacknowledged.
“One of the firefighters mentioned that they do believe the goats’ fire line helped them fight this fire,” library spokesperson Melissa Giller told CNN. “They just proved today how useful they really are.”
And they couldn’t have done it without their epic four-chambered stomachs—find out more about that and other awesome goat facts here.