The Love Saga of Thomas the Goose

By Kaylee Walker

September 03, 2022



Photo credit: Pexels/Matthew Montrone

He was a goose. And they were a polyamorous bi triad. Can I make it any more obvious?

Picture it: New Zealand, 1990-something. A big fluffy goose waltzes into a black swan’s life and makes waves.

Thomas the Goose grazing near a pool of water.

Thomas was a fluffy icon making headlines from his cozy home in New Zealand's Kapiti Coast. Thomas spent 18 years of bliss with his beloved black swan by the name of Henrietta and the couple was happy. Before Thomas arrived at the Waimanu lagoon, Henrietta was a soft-spoken bird who kept to herself. She was isolated, partially due to her damaged wing, making her the black swan of the area. When Thomas appeared, however, her life flew upside-down. The two bonded instantaneously, and Thomas became a fierce protector over his lovey-dovey companion. He would hiss and shun other geese, for he only had eyes for his black beauty.

Here is where the saga takes a great turn!

A young female swan enters their lives. Henrietta begins spending more time with this hot piece of feather. Initially, nobody raised any eyebrows, because, hey, they were probably just coop-mates. It wasn’t until this new swan started laying eggs that people started having questions.

No. Ducking. Way.

Henrietta was actually a male swan. From what the bird-nerds on the internet tell me, it is difficult to determine sex in black swans. So when the bird was assumed female originally, it was not some rookie mistake by the intern or a simple typo. Some animals are real tricky about their sex organs.

Once this discovery was made, Henrietta was quickly renamed Henry, and the new young swan was given the name Henrietta. (Come on, there had to be more punny names than that! Why recycle the same exact name? I would be so mad if I was given the name my husband no longer needed.)

So back to our boy, Thomas. He didn’t care what Henrietta was (now called Henry); he only wanted his partner. He went into a fit of rage over the two swans and would attack them. Thomas was livid over this betrayal of his life-long goose-mate. 18 years down the goose toilet for some hot-to-trot female swan who showed up out of nowhere!

Well, his feathers were no longer ruffled when the babies came.

Thomas dropped his petty ways and jumped in to be the best uncle in the world. The three raised the swans together (it takes a village, amirite?). In total there were 68 over 6 years. Thomas got over his insecurities and the group went on living in their nontraditional bird lives. Uncle Thomas was even spotted teaching the cygnets to fly.

Thomas the Goose and his feathered companions.

The three functioned as a poly V for the following years, co-parenting their babies and splitting date nights. Tourists were notorious for taking pictures of the triad, waddling around and always inseparable.

All good things must come to an end. Henry (for those taking notes, the swan previously known as Henrietta) died due to old age. It was 2009, so this bird really packed some mileage. Again, from what my quick research on the internet tells me, most black swans live approximately 24 years in the wild and 34 in captivity. So, Henry had a long and beautiful life. As the glue to the family, his death led to a change of life for Henrietta and Thomas.

Henrietta went on to be swooned by another bird, which left Thomas alone. Some sources reported hearing Thomas cry after the death of Henry, either from loneliness or a broken heart, we may never know. Thomas spent some time licking his wounds, then found love with a female goose he met in the estuary.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and these two lovebirds decided to start a family of their very own! They had a gaggle and lived happily ever after. (If you want to lie to yourself and end on a high note, stop reading here.)

Sorry to break your heart again, but the story, unfortunately, does not end there.

Thomas and Lady Goose (She didn’t get a name in this. So rude.) had 10 gorgeous geese and were excited parents... until some random goose named George (he got a name, but not the baby mama) stole his babies and raised them instead. Then Thomas started going blind. First in one eye, then both. Thomas was on the decline and in 2013 was moved to the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust.

Thomas was a retired bird now and decided to make friends with the others. He spent his retirement with other blind birds, and was seen fostering babies occasionally. He was a delightful bird who loved corn on the cob and would be one unhappy camper if it wasn’t in his home when the workers put him to bed for the night.

When Thomas died, he was laid to rest beside his beloved Henry in the park lagoon they lived together, with a commemorative stone and plaque from 2009 in honor of the 30 years between these two literal lovebirds.


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