40yo NZ goose in bisexual love triangle with swans dies

Thomas the blind, bisexual goose, who spent his later years in a bizarre love triangle, has died.

Thomas made a name for himself with residents at Waimanu Lagoon in Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast, where he lived for three decades.

The 40-year-old segregated himself from other geese in the area and instead chose a male black swan named Henry as his life-long mate.

Henry and Thomas spent 24 happy years together, before a female black swan named Henrietta flew into the lagoon.

Henry and Henrietta paired up and, making up for lost time, had dozens of cygnets together over six years.

But Thomas couldn't move on and became the third wheel in the relationship, acting as uncle to Henry and Henrietta's cygnets.

The trio were inseparable and become local avian celebrities until Henry died in 2009, at the age of 30.

Thomas went into care about five years ago after a series of health problems, including cataracts that eventually left him blind.

Craig Shepherd from the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust looked after Thomas in those final years and says he will be "sorely missed".

Mr Shepherd says Thomas was "a lovely goose" with "a colourful history".

"He just decided, 'Well, this is not necessarily just my life. I'm still going to be in there and be part of [Henry and Henrietta's] big family'.

"The one thing Thomas really did love was his corn and if there was no corn there, which was pretty unusual, he'd get grumpy."

Thomas spent the rest of his life enjoying a custom-made fountain with other blind birds and even fostered a few cygnet broods, which were brought in.

The Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust has taken to Facebook to say: "Thank you to all those people who loved, cared for and were a part of Thomas' life.

"He was such a special boy and a wonderful character. Thomas, our good friend, we miss you wholeheartedly, but may you rest in peace."

It is incredibly unusual for geese to live for four decades, with most living 20-25 years.

There's now talk of Thomas being buried at the Waimanu Lagoon, where partner Henry is also remembered with a plaque and a poem written by entertainer Pinky Agnew.


They found the old swan, gently gone

The willow shading his rest

Beak tucked into his cold wing's fold

Henry lay in his final nest.

Three decades old, this big black bird,

Love found him a curious mate.

A white goose, Thomas, shared his life,

And his estuarine estate.

Other birds came and swam and went

None cut between this pair

Till one day Henry's neck arched up

As great black wings beat the air.

She came down red beak a-flash with fire

Soon sinuous necks entwined

Thomas, chilled, bobbed in their wake

As the two swans' hearts aligned.

What Henrietta saw in the old swan's eyes

Was a loyalty ever true

Henry wanted a family, yes

But Thomas was family too.

And so the three enjoined their lives

Reared scores of cygnet chicks

Companionably swam and spooned and such

But for lovers, time still ticks.

Two birds swim now, lulled it seems

By cicadas' dull summer buzz

Even a great heart like Henry's dies,

But a great love never does.