The Story Behind Petros the Pelican, Mascot of Mykonos

One of the three pelicans of Mykonos  | © jojo/Flickr
One of the three pelicans of Mykonos | © jojo/Flickr
Photo of Ethel Dilouambaka
22 December 2017

You may not be aware of the fact that the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos is home to a unique mascot, a pelican. This is even more strange as pelicans are not native of the Aegean, which makes it an unlikely mascot. But let us tell you the story of Petros the Pelican, Mykonos’ mascot.

Petros was a white pelican, who had the privilege and honour of becoming the official mascot of the Greek island of Mykonos. This honour was bestowed upon it in 1958 after he was found hurt off the coast of the cosmopolitan island by a fisherman. Nursed back to life, the pelican remained on the island and was quickly adopted by the locals, who nicknamed it Petros. In Greek, the word “petro” means stone or rock, but can also mean grumpy and old.


A fun anecdote during Petros’ reign was that when it was a young bird, Petros flew to the nearby island of Tinos, where locals decided to keep it. To regain custody of the bird, the residents of Mykonos started a lawsuit, which ended when the judge decided in their favour. The Mykonians celebrated this victory by throwing a big welcome party, with music, food and drinks for all.

For many years, Petros was seen strolling around the main town’s alleys and streets, as well as by the harbour, where visitors, from A-listers to small children from the world over, would come to pet or feed it, and maybe even pose with it for a photo or two.

In the streets of Mykonos town | © Leonora (Ellie) Enking/ Flickr

Unfortunately, Petros the Pelican was killed by a car on December 2, 1985, after more than 30 years on the island, although there are several theories on the mascot’s death. Its loss, however, was mourned by locals for a while until Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who was a regular visitor of the island, donated a pelican named Irene to its residents. Apparently, the zoo of Hamburg, in Germany, also donated a pelican named Petros, and some years later, another wounded pelican found itself in Mykonos, where it was cared for by locals, who renamed it Nikolas. As such, today, there is not one but at least three pelicans roaming around freely in Mykonos’ town.

Should you visit Mykonos next summer, try to spot one of these pelicans. It may not be Petros anymore, but the current resident pelicans are definitely trying to uphold the original mascot’s legacy.

In the streets of Mykonos town | © ohhenry415/Flickr

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