Meet the Zoo: The Baroque Boys

Their curly feathers look fancy, but make it hard for these Sebastopol geese to fly.

One has no doubt heard about the Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, Beach Boys, and the Beastie Boys.  Well, the has "The Baroque Boys."  They are a little bit beastie and a lot of noise.

The zoo’s barnyard is home to a gaggle of five Sebastopol geese, nicknamed the Baroque Boys, and individually named after Baroque classical composers Chopin, Scarlati, Handel, Purcell, and Haydn.  These composers are favorites among classical music lovers.

If the “boys” are not busy in their little wading pool or preening their feathers, visitors might see the geese suddenly run towards them honking as loud as they can in a great chorus. They line up at the fence and the honking calms down to a series of little squeaks while their bright blue eyes look for food. 

Sebastopol geese are a breed of domesticated goose descended from the hefty European graylag, a goose most people recognize from Mother Goose books. Sebastopol have a curly feather mutation which is their identifying characteristic. While very pretty and giving them a fancy appearance, these feathers also make it difficult for these geese to fly.  If this were a wild breed of goose, such a characteristic would more than likely contribute to their extinction. 

This particular breed was developed in southeastern Europe, more than likely in the Sevastopol region of the Ukraine. Their characteristics were described in America around 1909.

These five arrived at the Prospect Park Zoo late last year. They share their yard with the two alpaca and for a while they shared space with Franklin the turkey. 

It is difficult to tell the boys apart, but it does not matter.  The Baroque Boys move in unison around their yard – if one starts moving, the rest follow. It is a delight to watch them stick out their curly wings and start running, heads pointed to the sky and honking like crazy to greet guests.  


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