Tiger Befriends Goat
Dog and jaguar
May 6, 2013
full story, comments, more photos:
Written by Cheryl Bernstein (Gauteng, South Africa)
It was a hot summer Sunday and my husband and I decided to take our two
grandchildren with their bicycles for a ride around our local lake. Of
course, a visit to the lake wouldn’t be the same without taking brown bread
and feeding the multitude of ducks and geese that inhabit the lake and its
island. There are probably around 200 geese and ducks at the lake. They are
all hungry, surviving only on the grass that surrounds the lake.
a year there is a massive cull of these geese, but they soon recover in
numbers in the spring. My two grandchildren, armed with their packets of
bread, began feeding the geese and were soon overwhelmed as the birds left
the water and surrounded them, squawking and grabbing bread out their hands.
Then, in the midst of all the noise, feathers, ducks and geese swimming
about, swam a tiny, yellow gosling.
He could not have been more than
two days old. He was desperate for something to eat and tried to grab a
crumb or two of bread from the water, but the adult geese would have none of
it. They pecked his tiny head and some even tried to push his head
underwater. He tried to get away and climbed out onto a rock. I walked down
to the water’s edge and grabbed him. Immediately, he put his tired little
head onto my shoulder and closed his baby eyes. He was exhausted. I felt his
crop and it was empty. His tiny body was just skin, bone and fluffy down.
This baby was starving.
My husband, the children and I decided to
walk around the lake and look for other families of geese who had goslings
to which this baby may belong. We walked and searched in the reeds for about
an hour, eventually realizing this baby was abandoned and alone. We decided
to take him home and raise him. I made a gruel of finely grated carrots,
carrot tops, celery tops, mashed duck pellets, crushed fresh corn and water,
but the gosling didn’t recognize this as food and would only eat tiny crumbs
of bread. This isn’t a balanced diet for a water bird.
I had done
some years of bird rehabilitation in the past and I knew how to tube feed a
bird, so I found the bird hand rearing mixture and tubed him. I then put him
in a basket with a hot pad, and he fell asleep, cuddled on top of a fluffy
toy I had given him for comfort.
On many bodies
of water, there is conflict between geese and humans.
The days passed
in a blur of feeding, talking to and raising Goose. I put him in a big wired
pen and my other two ducks and my three dogs took a great interest in him. I
sat with him for hours talking to him and pointing out juicy patches of
grass to him. Goose grew big and strong, started eating on his own and his
fluffy down was soon replaced with magnificent white feathers. His voice
grew from a squeak to a squawk and I watched with pride, as he developed
into a beautiful bird. The intention was always to release him back onto the
lake. But as time passed, Goose fell in love.
He followed his love interest around, spoke to her continuously in a soft
chipping sound and wanted to be around her always. The only problem with
that was that I was his love interest. He had imprinted on me and would not
let me out of his sight. When I was doing chores in the house, there was
Goose -- often lying down on the carpet and falling asleep until I was
He followed me into the bathroom and when I showered, he
showered too with the little droplets of water that landed on his feathers.
He discovered TV and watched with his head to the side. When he got bored,
he waddled outside to the pond, where he declared his total ownership of the
water and would not allow the other ducks to use it. He was very grumpy when
he couldn’t get into the house and be with me, and would squawk loudly and
jabber in a grumpy goose voice till I came out again.
He loved his
food and when I brought out his dish, he ran up and down the garden, wings
out, screaming with delight. He particularly loved watermelon, and he got a
quarter every day. At night, he would sleep outside against my glass bedroom
door, chipping to me all night, just letting me know he was there. But come
morning, he would tap at the glass to be let in. Of course his toilet
training was nonexistent and I had to start limiting the time he was allowed
in the house. When I sat outside with him, he climbed, as big as he was,
onto my lap where he settled down for a nap. He was so big by this time, I
couldn’t even put my arms around him, so I just stroked his lovely, long
white neck softly.
Decision day came about Goose’s future. I visited
the lake again and was really sad to see hardly any geese or ducks on the
lake. They had almost all been culled. There was a sinking pit in my stomach
knowing that Goose could have been killed in that cull too. Releasing him
back onto the lake would spell certain death for him in many ways, mainly
being that he would likely be caught up in the next year’s cull. Besides, he
was used to being fed a good diet regularly, and didn’t live mainly off
grass. He wouldn’t be able to find food for himself.
He was a happy
bird, strong and lively, and had the run of a very big garden and pond. But
something was missing from his life -- and that was companionship. So one
night my husband brought home a big cardboard box and inside was the answer
to our prayers. A big, beautiful grey female goose. At first Goose showed no
interest, nipping her and chasing her. But she was persistent and followed
him everywhere, and she eventually won him over with her charm.
first love stayed with him, though, and he still slept outside my room and
was overjoyed to be allowed into the house, where she never dared to come,
and follow me around. He still spoke to me in that soft chipping sound, and
felt he needed to “protect” me from everything and everyone, including my
dogs and husband, who he would hiss at in warning when they came near me if
he was around.
Here is dear Goose enjoying a walk in the garden.
Today, Goose is
a happy and healthy goose, king of the garden and his duck herd which
consists of his lady goose and two ducks, who follow him around. He knows
his feeding times and calls me loudly if I am a minute late with his food.
He still comes into the house and plods after me, he sleeps as near as he
can to me at night, on the step of my glass bedroom door, and chirps to me.
He is probably bigger than most geese due to a balanced diet and regular
I visited the lake again on the weekend, and there are hardly any
geese on the lake. As much as I would have liked to see Goose on a lake with
his own kind, he is loved and cared for in my garden -- and much more than
that, he is safe. He will live out a long and fulfilled life, with no threat
to his life, ever.
More Photos of Goose