A goose in New Zealand made famous by his interspecies love triangle with a pair of black swans has died at age 40.
Thomas spent three decades living at Waimanu Lagoon in Waikanae on New Zealand’s North Island. Early on segregated himself from the other geese, instead partnering up with a male black swan, Henry. (Locals initially assumed Henry female, but the couple’s lack of offspring soon revealed the truth.)
Thomas and Henry enjoyed 24 years together before Henrietta, a female swan, swooped into the lagoon: Henry and Henrietta paired up and the two became parents to dozens of baby swans over the next six years. But Thomas stuck around and became the third partner in the relationship, even helping to raise the couple’s 68 hatchlings.
The three inseparable birds become local celebrities until Henry died in 2009 at the age of 30. Geese and swans generally mate for life but once Henry was gone, Henrietta flew off to find a younger mate. Thomas’ caretakers reported he was heartbroken and could occasionally be heard crying out for Henry.
“Prior to Henrietta turning up they had about 18 happy gay years together,” birdwatcher Mik Peryer told Stuff. “Henrietta just flew off with another bird, being a young female, but poor old Tom was left on his own.”
Eventually, Thomas fathered chicks of his own with female geese. But as he aged, he experienced a number of health issues, including cataracts that eventually left him blind. He was taken in by the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust, and spent his remaining days as a foster parent to orphaned baby swans. His former caretakers say he will be “sorely missed.”
The Trust has announced plans to hold a public ceremony for Thomas, during which he will be buried beneath a commemorative stone beside his beloved swan mate Henry.
“We had about 100 people turn up for Henry,” said Thomas’s former caretaker Mik Peryer, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same happened for Thomas.”