Petros the Pelican Mykonos Icon


Petted and cajoled by locals and world-class celebrities alike, Petros the Pelican Mykonos is as much a symbol of the island of the winds, as Little Venice or the iconic windmills. Would you like to come and meet this bright, shiny star?

Anyone who is anyone has paraded on the winding streets of Mykonos at some point or the other: From the sad Princess Soraya to exuberant Jackie’ O, Leonardo Di Caprio, Gerald Buttler and the Hadids’ of this world.

But the hottest of them all isn’t sporting six-pack abs, pouty lips and the just perfect tan. And certainly does not have an anorexia issue. Rather he is short, plump and hairy, with a beaky nose and a squeaky voice. He is Petros the Pelican, Mykonos’ quintessential icon: Known by one name, he has travelled all the way to New York for PR purposes while he is perhaps the most photographed animal in the world. An Instagram sensation, more than an actual living being, Petros the Pelican Mykonos is an emblem, an idea: The island of the wind’s greatest ambassador, bread but not actually born there.

Petros the Pelican Mykonos: The makings of an icon

His story goes all the way back to the ‘50s. It was during Queen Frederica’s Royal cruise to the Greek islands in a raging storm that three wounded pelicans were found by local fishermen on Mykonos’ shores. Only one of them survived. He was named Petros after the heroic captain Petros Drakopoulos who was executed in WW2. Pink and white feathered and quite adorable, Petros made instant friends with one of his rescuers: Theodoris Kyrantonis, a larger than life, pirate-like figure, who loved to eat, drink and dance gave him a home, and in turn, he learned to spring onto his shoulder on command. The odd pair went out together in the island’s tavernas and cafes. They communicated in a strange combination of Greek and pelican squawks that enthralled the early tourists. Locals -fishermen returning from their catch, shop owners and their customers- were eager too, to throw Petros a treat. His favourite hangout was the small chapel of Agia Moni, next to Skepathiano’s fish tavern. He became a bonafide Mykonian citizen, forever graciously posing for a “click” alongside royalty, hippies and Hollywood stars that were discovering Mykonos for the first time.

The abduction of Petros the Pelican Mykonos

Petros was however young and restless and he nearly instigated an inter-island war. One day the curiosity got the better of him so he followed a boat to neighbouring Tinos. Some even go as far as to claim that he was actually abducted by the Tinians, who were jealous of the bird’s popularity. Kidnapped or not, Petros was allegedly lured by fresh fish and locked up in a cafe with his feathers clipped to avoid escape. Mykonians were, of course, furious. In fact, their mayor took the matter to the courts: This was the first case where the custody of a bird was disputed, making it the avian equivalent of the abduction of Helen of Troy! Eager to get their lucky mascot back, the Mykonians decided not to wait for the court’s decision. They assembled a flotilla of 12 fishing boats manned by locals aged 8 to 80 and set off for Tinos with Theodoris, Petros’ best mate, in charge. While the Tinian mayor insisted that their pelican was not Petros, Theodoris called out his comrade’s name. The bird then immediately lashed out and clamped his beak on his captor’s nose, before jumping onto Theodoris’ shoulder. The whole strange drama was even recorded by journalists who had been alerted and were on site. Finally, the Mykonian entourage triumphantly returned to their island with Petros in tow, where they celebrated in a huge public feast, complete with church bells ringing and all.

Petros the Pelican Mykonos Dynasty

However brief, the absence of Petros shocked the Mykonians. Desperate to have a substitute pelican at hand, they adopted another male who had been found in nearby Andros. He was named Demos, and for some time served as Petros’ stand-in for the island’s promotion abroad. He even went to the USA to advertise Mykonos to the thriving Greek ex-pat community.

As per the original Petros, he remained on the island where he continued to be petted by primadonnas and stars, like Jackie O. She was actually his number one fan, so infatuated, that she even brought him another pelican from the US, Irene, as a companion. Alas, this Southern Belle did not prove to be a suitable bride, for she and Petros never consummated their relationship. He nevertheless continued to lead the charmed life up until, the mature, by pelican standards, age of 33. Petros passed away in 1985, though the circumstances of his demise are somewhat unclear. Some say he was hit by a car while others claim he was sexually assaulted by an inebriated tourist. In any case, mortally injured, Petros was urgently dispatched to a clinic in Thessaloniki, but it was too late. The whole island mourned his loss. Petros was embalmed and kept in Mykonos Folklore Museum, where he remains to this day.

Petros enjoyed international acclaim and adulation throughout his enviable life. He became Mykonos’ lucky mascot attracting prolific attention to the island of the winds. Not unlike James Bond, he became a timeless hero. Petros was succeeded by a number of other pelicans, some of them named in his honour, who in turn continue to play the same role up to the present. Nowadays you’ll find them casually strolling along the beachfront or in the cobbled streets of Chora. Do make sure to treat them with the respect and admiration real stars deserve. Should you annoy them, they might make a loud, honking sound that will scare you to death. They are Mykonos’ true A-listers after all!

If you’d like to find out more about Mykonos and its stars come and stay with us at the Semeli Best Hotel Mykonos. Advantageously located in a fairly central yet quiet corner of town, the Semeli luxury boutique hotel & spa amalgamates effortless elegance, inspirational design, cutting edge facilities and a host of pampering amenities, like the Aegeo Spa. A proponent of the good life, the Semeli is also a foodies destination on its own right with Thioni and Krama restaurants featuring first on the lists of the island’s gourmands. Offering a wide range of luxurious Mykonos rooms & suites to suit different preferences and tastes, the Semeli affords all the privacy and seclusion you need, especially in light of the COVID 19 pandemic. Though this best 5-star hotel in Mykonos town has invariably been paying particular attention to sanitation, well being and hygiene, this year it has put into effect a host of extra precautionary measures in line with the strictest international standards. Safeguarding the health, safety, and security of its guests, team members, and business partners, the Semeli is ideally positioned to offer stress-free, indulgent holidays amid glorious surroundings: Just the perfect antidote to the gloom and doom we have all recently experienced!

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