Here are many reasons why Mykonos, one of the most famous Greek islands, is well-known among tourists and jet-setters from around the world. Although its stunning turquoise waters, delicious food, natural beauty and world-class party scene are enough to make you fall in love with the Island of Winds, the fantastic story of Petros (Peter) the pelican is well worth discovering.
In 1958 a fisherman collected and nursed an injured young pelican that landed close to his caïque ( a small fishing boat) while off the coast of Mykonos. During its recovery, the pelican got so accustomed to humans that it began wandering the streets and became an everyday part of life on Mykonos, supported by the locals.
It didn’t take long until the locals gave the pesky pelican a name, Petros, which according to local legend, was the name the fisherman wanted to name a son should he ever be fortunate enough to have one. Afterwards, the adorable pelican became the island’s unofficial mascot.
Apparently, the bird even became an issue of dispute, when it suddenly disappeared from Mykonos and was seen on the neighboring island of Tinos! The Mykonians started a campaign to claim their pelican back, and Petros eventually came home safe. The original Petros died in 1985.
Hearing the story of Petros, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis donated a female Pelican, called Irini, to the people of Mykonos, while the Hamburg Zoo gave the island another young male pelican, which inherited the name of Petros. In this way, a pelican named Petros will always wander the streets of Mykonos town. Today, three pelicans call the township home: Irini, Petros, and a younger male called Nikolas.
For Mykonos, Petros is much more than a tourist attraction; he’s part of the shared legacy of the people and Mykonos’s enduring legacy in the hearts of people around the world.