Visit Gloria today or tomorrow morning if you want to see her before she leaves for "goose camp" this winter.
Tomorrow afternoon (Dec. 28), Gloria, who has been reigning for years over the Olde Mistick Village duck pond, will be moved to a wildlife preserve to help her survive another winter. Dan, manager of the Gray Goose Cookery, has been keeping an eye on Gloria and believes this temporory move will give the old goose a fighting chance.
I first learned about Gloria's amazing survival story when I searched for contenders for the 8th Wonder of Mystic. The following is an excerpt from my new book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail:
And what about Gloria, the regal, yet cranky, arthritic goose who had been reigning for more than 20 years over the Olde Mistick Village duck pond? I had discovered this “wonder” goose while interviewing the office manager of Olde Mistick Village.
I figured if the public only knew about Gloria, they would demand the creation of a state-of-the-art exhibit for this feisty goose and highlight me, of course, as the writer who discovered her.
Gloria first came to Olde Mistick Village in the mid-1980s when her owner could no longer care for her. Knowing the Village maintained duck ponds for their shoppers to enjoy, her owner thought Gloria could live out her life among the ducks who were permanent residents there. A goose in captivity can live up to 40 years.
Christine Robertson, Office Manager of Olde Mistick Village, said that in early 2010, “an employee of The Gray Goose Cookery told us that Gloria was ailing. She looked a little sluggish to them. She wasn’t her normal, feisty self.”
Although unheard of in areas where geese are considered pests, Robertson called on a vet in hopes of making Gloria better. She said, “These birds are part of our family, and Gloria is the reigning bird. We call her Queen Gloria because she is very bossy and hisses when displeased—but she is protective of her subjects—especially the swan we once had named Gracie. They were good friends. If a duck or person got too close to the swan, Gloria would warn them off with a hiss.”
The vet, who didn’t know for sure if Gloria was a female, discovered that she had an infection. So every day, the maintenance man in charge of feeding the birds caught Gloria and held her close to his chest so Robertson could give her an injection. Robertson said, “She started feeling better after the first day, so catching her for the rest of the treatment was almost impossible!” Gloria recovered completely, and despite her arthritis and a slight limp, was still reigning as queen in the main duck pond.
The following winter, while shopping at The Gray Goose Cookery in Olde Mistick Village with my husband, Jim, and our daughter Jackie, I saw a photo of Gloria on a sign beside the cash register. The sign said she had gotten sick again, and this time, the management of the Village was reaching out to the public for donations toward her vet bill.
Gloria’s problem? Deciding to take her to a veterinarian who specializes in birds to address her gimpy leg and arthritis, Christine Robertson was in for a big surprise. Gloria was a male—and a very lonely one at that.
The vet thought the key to Gloria’s happiness (his name will not be changed) was not only a special diet to help his arthritis, but a female goose—Lulu. “It’s become a great love affair,” Robertson declared enthusiastically. Then, catching herself, she admitted, “Well, I guess that’s an overstatement. He’s too old to…you know…do what it takes to become a father, but they are learning to tolerate each other!”
Spring is a particularly busy time at the Village because of mating season. Ducks fly in to raise their ducklings, then fly off again. Many, however, live at the Village year-round. Robertson said, “Why would they want to leave? They have everything they need here.” The ducks are fed five 50-pound bags of duck food per week by the maintenance crew.
What happens if age eventually gets the better of Gloria? Robertson said, “We have a duck pond near the maintenance barn that we call the ‘Geriatric Ward.’ That is where we retire all the birds that are too old or feeble to defend themselves from an aggressive duck.” (A plaque memorializing Gloria’s swan friend, Gracie, was placed there.)
Bailey and I thought we should pay a visit to Gloria and Lulu and decide for ourselves if a love affair was blossoming between the two...
To learn more about Gloria's love life, and the love life of other famous adventurers such as Amelia Earhart along the Mystic Seafarer's Trail, look for the Mystic Seafarer's Trail at your local library, in Mystic area shops, or learn more about the Mystic Seafarer's Trail by clicking on the book's "LOOK INSIDE" feature on Amazon.