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We first noticed Skip in our park sometime in early June, 2006. He had a bad right leg and walked with a noticeable and painful limp. We named him Skip because he appeared to skip when taking steps.

Skip was always alone. He also appeared to prefer human company, sitting beside friendly park goers, even those who offered him no treats.

However, he was always annoyed with the other geese and ducks, snapping at them whenever they ventured close to him. On a few occasions, he allowed a petite goose to share his pile of grain with him and they'd feed side by side. We hoped that Skip would mate with her because he was such a lonely heart.

Skip was the first to complete molting in the park. This meant that he had not bred in the spring because non-breeders are the earliest to complete molting. In mid-July, he flew from the pond to land, a distance of about fifty feet. He flew a couple more times in the weeks to follow and then, all of a sudden, he stopped flying.

By mid-August, Skip became the talk of geese-loving park goers. They talked about his limp. They said he was always alone. They said he wasn't flying out when the geese flew out to feed in the mornings and evenings. They suggested we capture him and take him to the rehabilitation center. We noticed all that as well and it was obvious that something was wrong with Skip.

We knew there was nothing wrong with his wings because we had seen him fly in July. However, his overall feather condition was poor. His feathers were frayed at the ends. We were concerned that he was sick or had feather mites. However, we were reluctant to capture him because we were worried that he'd be euthanized by the rehabbers.

Finally, after much debate, we decided that Skip needed to be taken to the rehabbers. On September 9, with the help of a goose-loving friend, we captured Skip and took him to the rehabilitators.

A few days later, we received a good report from the rehabilitation center. They said that Skip was emaciated but able to fly despite the poor condition of his feathers. His feathers were frayed because he was inactive and not preening himself. They suggested that he might be suffering from depression, perhaps over the loss of a loved mate. His appetite was poor and he was uninterested in daily activities.

Skip remained at the center for almost a month. While he was there, he bonded with another goose.

Late in September, the center contacted us with the good news that Skip could be released. However, they felt that Skip was not ready for immediate release into the wild. They also felt that he should remain  with his new friend as he badly needed to have a friend. They had made arrangements with the zoo for two places at their pond for Skip and his new friend, whom we named Lou. They decided to release them at the zoo so that Skip could decide whether to remain or whether to leave. If they wished to remain in the city rather than fly south, they could do so. They would be housed indoors at the Fort Whyte Nature Center over the winter. If they wished to migrate south, they were free to do so, too.

On October 2, we picked Skip and Lou up at the rehabbers and transported them to the zoo.


Skip and Lou at the zoo hospital before being released into the pond.
FALL UPDATE: Skip and Lou did not show up at our park. We assume they're still at the zoo.

DECEMBER 29, 2006 UPDATE: We visited Fort Whyte Nature Center's indoor pond to find out if Skip and Lou were spending their winter indoors but they were not there. We assume that they decided to migrate south, after all. We hope to see them in the spring.