Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life in the Zoo: The Fictional Version - Where is Sweetie’s Husband?

Fritz, Sweetie's mate

In the book, Sweetie is apparently without a mate. That is a problem because without a mate, a goose may lay eggs, but they will not be fertile. None will hatch.  Cleopatra has a mate named Tut. Other geese in the story have mates, but they are minor characters and are not mentioned.

Wild geese mate for life.  most domestic geese will be loyal to each other during the breeding season. sometimes, a domestic pair will bond for life, but that is a little unusual.

A reader asked why Sweetie didn’t have a mate to help her protect her eggs. That is a good question. I took my answer from a real-life situation that happened in the zoo.

We had been donated about fifteen geese all at one time.  There were several varieties.  Some of the geese, like the big Emden gander in the picture above, was very friendly. He would allow people to pet him. Some of the geese were not so friendly. A few of them were aggressive and would actually attack visitors.

One day we decided that the aggressive geese would have to go, so we checked around and found a new home for them.  About half the geese were rounded up, crated, and taken away. I made sure we had an equal number of geese and ganders.

The remaining geese were upset for a while, but they settled down.  During breeding season, all the geese paired up and mated. All of them, that is, except for Fritz and one sad little female.  She was willing to mate, but Fritz was not. 

We finally realized we had taken Fritz’s mate by mistake.  Eventually, the lone female shared a mate. but until his death eight years later, Fritz never took another mate.  he was one of those rare domestic geese who had mated for life.

In the story, I decided that’s what happened with Sweetie's mate.  there were too many geese at the zoo, so Mr. Dingsnapple found a new home for the extras. He did not realize that one of the geese he gave away was Sweetie's mate. 

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