Conservation & environment

Goodbye Old Friend

22 February 2016

I am very sad to be writing a blog under these circumstances and it is with an extremely heavy heart that I have to tell all Big Bird's fans that he is no longer with us following a tragic boat accident on the morning of the 21st February.

Please read on to remember our beloved BB...

In late October of 2013 a young grey Pelican washed up on the beach here at Greystoke Mahale. He was blown off course from his flock in a big storm, alone and bewildered he definitely landed on the right beach! I am sure nobody expected what would become of him…

Taken in by the Greystoke family the previous managers Jeff and Kerrie nurtured this ugly pelican, teaching him to fly and taking him out on daily fishing trips in their kayak. Over time he blossomed into the most magnificent handsome Great White Pelican and they aptly named him "Big Bird".
And big he most certainly was, in size, in character, but most of all his big heart that made many of the lucky ones that met him fall in love with him.
Slowly but surely he gained a following and with the overnight success of his youtube video with over 5 million hits I doubt there is another Pelican out there that rivals his popularity.

Big Bird started to realise this and became a bit of a diva with it! His attention seeking behaviour often getting him in to trouble, fiercely intelligent he always knew how to test his adoptive parents and loved teasing the rest of the staff making them run circles around him! A favourite of his would be to pick up guest's sunglasses, books and hats…once he got bored of that he would dash inside the mess and hide under the dinner table in between the guests legs hoping we wouldn't see him! Not wanting to share the limelight with anyone else, if there was ever any book or picture with a chimp on it, that would promptly be picked up and thrown in the lake!
Cam and I have been very privileged to take the mantel of BB's parents for the last 16 months and believe me it's been a full time job! He very quickly bonded with Cam (usually preferring men over women - although he'd give me cuddles when no one was looking!) and they would spend their days swimming, fishing, kayaking, playing catch, and recently frisbee!

Loved by us all - BB was part of the family

He loved to help out with anything that was going on in camp!

He did NOT appreciate Jane Goodall stealing the show! wink

As he's grown up, like any teenager finding his (webbed) feet, he has tested our nerves on several occasions, heading off for the night and not returning until the next morning, and surviving a couple of adventures on the large passenger ferry even a few 'birdnapping' incidents where our guides have had to go on rescue missions…he certainly did like to be the centre of all here, this was his kingdom and he let everybody know it! He would chase off the resident warthogs from their sunbathing spot and had great fun sitting in the palm nut vultures nest parpping at them as they dive bombed him! He thought this was hilarious! But no matter what mischief he got himself up to in the day you could always be sure that he would turn up on the dot for afternoon tea as that meant joining all his new friends on the boat to catch dinner! He really did love to be surrounded by a new flock of exciting friends each week and entertained us all!

There has never been a dull moment with our BB around, he truly was a huge personality that has left an enormous hole here in Greystoke it is with the greatest sadness and heaviest of hearts that we have to announce this terrible news. He was taken too early but had a very loving and exciting life with us all here.
To the ones who got to know our friendly pelican you will have the greatest memories to treasure forever.

We would love to see any of your favourite photos of our wonderful friend please do share them with us and keep his memory alive.
We are having a new boat built for the new season and will christen it "Big Bird" in honour of our dearest friend.

He touched everybody’s hearts and truly was one of a kind.
We like to think he has now joined his big flock soaring high in the skies...

Forever young and never forgotten…

Rest in Peace old friend.

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