Wayward Goat Finds Home At Tioga Safari Compound

TIOGA, LA (AP) — No one is sure how or when the goat took up residence on the grounds of the Alexandria VA Medical Center in Pineville, but people sure noticed when he suddenly disappeared.

         LaDonna Mock, general manager at Gone Wild Safari, wants everyone to know that the goat, now dubbed VA, has found a new home at the Tioga compound.

         For years, VA was seen occasionally at the hospital.

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         "There are rumors that he jumped out of somebody's truck, that he got out of somebody's house and just roamed over there," Mock said.

         However he arrived, VA showed up more often after installation of solar panels cleared land on which he used to roam.

         Mock was called about a month ago because VA was getting bolder — approaching patients and others on the hospital grounds. The 110-pound billy intimidated some elderly patients, so officials decided that he had to be removed.

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         Sgt. Michael Lodge, a Department of Veterans Affairs police officer, said VA did make some people uncomfortable. They were mainly people, like himself, who'd never had contact with goats, he said.

         "I had to learn that a goat rearing up could be a problem or he could be playing," said Lodge. "He wanted to play."

         VA also had a habit of walking up to apartments in a nearby complex, said Mock. "He would go up on people's back patios, and the people in the apartments knew him also," she said.

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         VA police asked Mock if the safari would be willing to take him and arranged for her to come onto the grounds to capture him. Mock began visiting the goat to get him used to her.

         "I talked to him for a few days, kinda let him know who I was and my voice," she said on Monday. "I went by on a Tuesday afternoon to see if he was out, and he was."

         A bystander who was taking photos of VA helped Mock round him up so he could be transported to the safari grounds.

         She laughed. "It was not easy."

         Since then, VA has been to a veterinarian for a check-up and to be neutered. He is in good health, even though his diet frequently was supplemented by people giving him food like French fries. He's being weaned onto a normal goat's diet, but Mock does still sneak in some fries.

         But once he left the hospital, people noticed.

         "They have called the safari. They have called me personally. They have Facebook messaged me," said Mock. "He had bonded with a lot of the employees."

         Lodge visited VA on Sunday at the safari and brought back pamphlets for residents of the nursing home so they'd know where the goat had gone to live.

         "He's doing well," he said.

         She said VA still is trying to adjust to the sounds of all the different animals on the compound. The peacocks frightened him, she said, and a nearby dog barking also made him a bit nervous. But Mock is working with VA, walking him around the compound, to help him adjust to his new home. Plans are to have him join the petting zoo when he's ready.

         As she talked recently, VA stood patiently beside her on a leash. He'd lean his head in her direction as she scratched behind his ears.

         "He's very calm and relaxed, considering that he was wild," she said.

         – by AP/ Reporter Melissa Gregory with The Town Talk

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