Blind, bi­sex­ual goose dies

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

‘‘Hen­ri­etta just flew off with an­other bird, be­ing a young fe­male, but poor old Tom was left on his own.’’

A love af­fair that spanned decades – and species – is at an end.

Thomas the blind, bi­sex­ual goose died last week, and will be buried next to his part­ner of nearly 30 years, a black swan named Henry, on the edge of the Ka¯piti la­goon that the pair called home.

Hav­ing spent his fi­nal years at a Welling­ton bird sanc­tu­ary, Thomas will be laid to rest with a pub­lic cer­e­mony held later this month, bird­watcher Mik Peryer said.

‘‘It was a 30-year love story that should be cel­e­brated.’’

Peryer guides tours around Waimanu La­goon and spent 26 years watch­ing the birds.

Ini­tially, when the pair were first seen to­gether, Henry was thought to be a fe­male swan but the lack of ba­bies soon proved oth­er­wise, he said.

The happy part­ner­ship was briefly tested when Henry paired up with a fe­male swan but Thomas stuck around, even help­ing to raise the in­evitable ba­bies.

‘‘Prior to Hen­ri­etta turn­ing up they had about 18 happy gay years to­gether.’’

The feath­ered three­some de­lighted visi­tors who watched the ‘‘the eter­nal tri­an­gle’’ raise 68 cygnet over the years with Thomas ful­fill­ing the role of dot­ing un­cle.

He was left heart­bro­ken af­ter Henry’s 2009 death and could be heard oc­ca­sion­ally cry­ing for him, Peryer said.

‘‘Hen­ri­etta just flew off with an­other bird, be­ing a young fe­male, but poor old Tom was left on his own.’’

The ar­rival of a cou­ple of fe­male geese fi­nally saw Thomas fa­ther his own ba­bies only to have them stolen by an­other goose, named Ge­orge, who raised them as his own.

‘‘You would see Ge­orge and the ba­bies with Thomas just fol­low­ing them around.’’

Fail­ing eye­sight and at­tacks by swans saw Thomas re­homed to the Welling­ton Bird Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Trust in 2013.

He spent his fi­nal years at the sanc­tu­ary, eat­ing corn and rais­ing or­phaned cygnets.

Thomas, who Peryer es­ti­mated to be 38-years-old, will be buried un­der the com­mem­o­ra­tive stone – com­plete with plaque – that marks Henry’s fi­nal rest­ing place.

‘‘We had about 100 peo­ple turn up for Henry and I wouldn’t be sur­prised if the same hap­pened for Thomas,’’ Peryer said.

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