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Sheep Take Over Bryant Park

By Mary Johnson | September 27, 2012 4:27pm | Updated on September 27, 2012 4:28pm

MIDTOWN — Bryant Park turned into a sheep pasture on Thursday, with 30 wooly, albeit somewhat baaashful, sheep grazing in a pen at the center of its manicured lawn.

A cluster of sheep munched on hay and huddled inside a Plexiglas pen while passersby stopped to look at the livestock. Most walked by, laughed, and moved on.

Ben Cox, a 2-year-old from Cobble Hill, eagerly tapped the Plexiglas around the 40-foot-by-40-foot pen.

“We go on little adventures every day, so today we decided to try Bryant Park,” Cox's cousin and caretaker Killian Sobel said. “This is awesome.”

The merino sheep were grazing in the shadow of skyscrapers for "Wool Uncovered," part of the British Campaign for Wool, which promotes the notoriously itchy fabric as good for more than just winter scarves and socks.

Bryant Park's concrete fountain was drained and filled with fluffy, multicolored patches of wool for the day-long event, and wool carpets were spread throughout the park, along with wool-covered sofas and chairs. Visitors were also invited to sort wool, lounge on a woolen bed and spin wool into yarn.

A small group of PETA protesters also gathered at the event to protest the treatment of sheep in wool shearing.

Campaign manager Ashley Byrne was accompanied by a protester dressed as a white sheep with a head wound. She warned of the "careless and very rough” shearing process used on sheep.

“We want people to know that there’s no need to be buying wool,” said Byrne, who was carrying a sign that read “Wool: Shear Cruelty.” “People should stick to the alternatives that are comfortable, warm, fashionable and cruelty-free.”

But Tom Colyer, vice chair of the American Wool Council, dismissed those claims.

“If my sheep are not treated well, if they’re not healthy, that costs me money,” Colyer said.

The sheep stuck to themselves inside the pen Thursday, largely ignoring visitors. The grass inside the pen was dotted with sheep pellets, which a Bryant Park worker said earlier would be very easy to clean up.

Two-year-old Varenne from Sunnyside, Queens, who had only ever seen sheep at a farm, was enthralled to see them in the middle of the city, her mother Anna Webb said.

“She wants to go in there,” Webb, 37, said with a laugh. “I said, ‘I don’t think we’re allowed.’”