In 1958, an injured white pelican was found off the strand of Paranga by a fisherman. Residents wondered how the bird landed in Mykonos, but it was nonetheless cared for and stayed on the island supported by locals.
It soon received the name “Petros” from locals resulting from a corny joke after the Greek word for “semen”. Petros also translates as “Peter” in Greek, so the joke worked both ways.
The Rise and Demise of Petros
Petros later became the official mascot of Mykonos for some time. In great frustration to locals and tourists alike, however, Petros failed to survive being hit by a car on December 2, 1985.
The Official Mascot of Mykonos
The official mascot of Mykonos still warms the hearts of locals. Sightings and anecdotes still contribute to its legendary status.
One restaurant owner proudly recounts how the island has taken care of the well-loved pelicans. They come to symbolize the generosity of the community, and the value they place on preserving traditions.
In this sense, pelicans have become not only a source of pride in Mykonos, but also serves as an inspiration.
In the 1970s, Petros worried residents when he wandered off a film set in New York City. Yes, he was THAT famous!
He was eventually spotted napping along a busy avenue, perhaps exhausted from touring the streets on his own, or homesick for the boats at the harbor where he waited for fishermen.
Many other funny tales and legends surround the beloved bird. A majority of these stories claim he would wait for the fishermen to return for his dinner. While others mention that the only time he grew more assertive was when he had to compete with cats for fish.
Petros on Video
After the death of the original Petros, three new pelicans resided around the Mykonos town and were often found touring the island together.
You could even find them as regulars at Niko’s Taverna or strutting on scenic spots in Little Venice and Paraportiani Square.
The first successor was donated by the Hamburg Zoo and honorifically was given the name Petros so that the legend lived on.
A second pelican, who was also cared for after injury and adopted by the island was named Nikolas.
A third pelican named Irene was donated by Jackie Onassis but has since unfortunately died.
Birds of the Same Feather
As more pelicans arrived in Mykonos over the years, one particular bird was always singled out and named Petros.
The Petros birds were very different. Some observed that one was a bit reserved, yet another made demands, while others were said to be absolute divas.
Let Go of MY(konos) Pelican!
When one particular pelican landed on the neighboring island of Tinos, a battle in court ensued.
After Mykonos was later given custody of its renewable mascot, locals threw a huge welcome party with even members of the clergy participating in the festivities.
Mykonos Turns Back on Famous Pelican
Sadly, not all stories have a great ending, but who knows, maybe one day, it will change.
The stuffed body of the famous pelican of Mykonos is currently lying dusty and neglected in a storage room at the local Folklore Museum.