So This Goat Walks Into a Bar

Gordan the goat? He’s seen some things. What things, no one’s quite sure, because Gordan isn’t talking. Among things Gordan’s owner, Eric Finkler, would like to know is how, exactly, Gordan found his way into a St. Pete Beach bar.

Friday night, July 25, Gordan became the target of an aborted goat-napping on Gulfport Beach. Finkler, who lives at the foot of 49th Street, had finished working on his motorcycle and wanted to check out its performance. Finkler left Gordan, a nine-month-old African Pygmy goat, in his van down by the beach. He left Gordan with a bucket of hay, a bucket of feed, and water. He rolled down the windows and hooked Gordan up to a long leash.

Gordan suffers from separation anxiety, Finkler says. When Finkler left, Gordan started to cry. Goat cries sound not unlike human baby cries, and Gulfport Police began receiving calls from concerned Gulfportians.

Officers say they assessed the goat’s circumstances and determined Gordan faced no imminent danger. Officers on shift Friday night took turns checking on Gordan to monitor his well-being.

Finkler did not realize this. He returned to the van after a ride over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and back, spent some time with Gordan, and decided to take another ride. He returned to his van shortly after 10:15, moments after police looked in on Gordan.

Gordan was gone.

“Somebody came along and thought they were going to be a hero – or they thought they were going to be cute,”he says.

The next morning, Finkler spray-painted a plea for Gordan’s return on his van.

“Please return my friend Gordan the Goat!”he wrote. On the rear, Finkler spray-painted his contact information. He parked the van in front of Stella’s in Gulfport.

While Finkler fretted over Gordan, Gordan had embarked on an adventure of his own. While no one knows the details, Gordan found his way across the Corey Causeway and into Riptides, a Blind Pass bar. The bartender brought him to a family member the next day. By then, Finkler’s van had garnered some attention, and five hours after Finkler plastered his message on his van, a woman called him.

“I think I have your goat,” she said. By Saturday night, Finkler and Gordan were once again under the same roof.

As for the van? While it’s possible anyone else finding a goat may mistakenly call Finkler, he says he had plans to replace the van before Gordan’s goat-napping.

“The van was an easy sacrifice to make for Gordan,” he says.

Right now, Gulfport code prohibits livestock (Section 5-12.1), except for hens, which were granted an exception in 2009. Florida Statute 585.01(13) defines livestock; in its definition, it includes goats “raised for private use of commercial purposes.” Finkler says he expects the legality of goats to come before council in the near future.

Contact Cathy Salustri at

This article originally appeared in the Gabber Newspaper. 

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.

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