Big Bird the Pelican

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 who 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. 

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.

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!

As he's grown up, much like any teenager finding his (webbed) feet, yes, he 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! 

Abandoned by his flock, Bigbird the pelican stumbled ashore after a storm and was taken in by the staff of Greystoke Mahale in Tanzania. Watch as Bigbird learns to fly for the first time.

He really did love to be surrounded by a new flock of exciting friends each week and entertained us all! He loved to help out with anything that was going on in camp! 

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! 

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.

Loved by us all - Big Bird was part of the family 

"Sadly, Greystoke camp announced on the 22nd February that Big Bird had died after a tragic boat accident. The camp also posted a picture of him on Facebook, and this has led to scores of Big Bird obituaries with guests, guides and friends posting their photos of him. He had undoubtedly become a bird ambassador to another large social biped – us. Good-bye Big Bird." 

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.

Compiled by Fan Carolyn Shannon

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