Likely the oldest goose in Iraq going about its business in a Kurdish village. (photo: سلام هاندني)
The village of Mulla Wissa in northern Iraq has become well known among locals for a very unusual reason: The village is home to one of the oldest geese in the world.
The goose in question is now 24 years old, which puts it among some of the oldest similar fowls in the world. A goose’s average lifespan can be anything between 10 and 25 years and old age is around 24 or 25 years.
The owner of the goose, Nabaz Younes, says that the animal is now a lot slower and doesn’t go far from his house, but she always comes when he calls her. Perhaps what makes this goose special is that she has lived through many of the changes that Iraqi Kurdistan has also gone through.
We have shared many experiences with this animal, both painful and beautiful.
“When the villages here started to be reconstructed in 1991, we returned. And we hatched a number of goose eggs,” Younes explains. “Only this one is still alive.”
In fact, the goose is older than the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan, which was formed in 1992, Younes points out. In the village, the locals often say that the old goose brings more wisdom and more blessings than the government anyway.
“The goose is loved by all members of my family,” Younes says. “In fact, it is a member of the family and we have shared many experiences with this animal, both painful and beautiful. That’s why we care for it so much.”
Geese tend to lay eggs once a year during their breeding season. But the old goose has always laid eggs twice a year, and this has happened every year for the past 24, Younes says. “The biggest problem now is that she gets very aggressive during this time and won’t let any other birds near her,” he notes.
Of the around 300 eggs the old goose has laid, about 20 of her offspring are still alive.
“All of the people of this village love that goose,” says Soran Mohammed, one of Younes’ neighbours. Everyone remembers how the goose has been with the family for so many years, he notes.
People have tried to buy the famous goose but Younes won’t hear of it, even when high prices are offered.
“The goose is a blessing for our family, a lucky charm,” Younes says. “And we won’t give it away as long as it is alive.”
The next thing Younes wants to do is try and get his goose into the Guinness Book of Records. He may have to wait a while for that though. The oldest recorded living goose was an English gander named George and he was almost 50 when he passed away in 1976. Recently there’s also been talk of a 30-year-old barnacle goose in Britain.