The Greek island of Mykonos has drawn stars from all over the world since the early 1950s. Many have come and gone but Petros the Pelican stayed on to become the superstar of Mykonos! You will see Petros taking a stroll by the windmills, enjoying a seafood meze in Little Venice or posing proudly for the tourist-paparazzi! He declares a permanent resident of the island, though by nature he is a traveler.
A Local Legend
Petros was a Rhodopean Pelican who became the official mascot of the island of Mykonos. In 1955, a local fisherman, Captain Antonis Charitopoulos, picked him up from the sea exhausted and in ill-health. The huge bird had apparently lost its way during its migration. It was the first time the islanders had seen such a creature and it was love at first sight. The pelican was adopted by the fisherman Theodoris Kyrantonis who named him “Petros” after Petros Drakopoulo, a Mykonian hero during World War II. He was provided with care and after he had recovered, the pelican stayed on and became a permanent citizen of the island. With the right look and character, he seemed to be made for Mykonos. Social and independent, cheerful and lazy, always ready to welcome strangers and entertain them, let them caress him and then proudly pose for a photo - Mykonos was his!
The Superstar and the International Jet Setters
Petros the Pelican went on to become the superstar of Mykonos and enjoyed the pleasures of the island alongside other VIPs and jet setters, such as Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Melina Mercouri, and many more.
In 1963, when Jackie Kennedy visited the island, she decided to donate a female pelican called "Peace", while the Hamburg Zoo offered a male pelican, which was also named "Petros". In 1995 another pelican fell to the island and so today in Mykonos there are a total of three pelicans, which have won the hearts of both islanders and visitors alike.
The Abduction of a Superstar
Serious and formal, dressed in the whitish colors of the Cycladic island, somewhere he remembered being a bird. Petros the Pelican opened his huge wings and disappeared over the horizon. The residents of Tinos, who were said to envy Mykonos and its unmatched charm, envied Petros too. And so one day, they made the mistake of abducting him - Petros was caught, put in a cage and taken to Tinos. They said at that time that Petros had been bored with Mykonos and that he himself had sought asylum in Tinos.
For the Myconians this was a "cause for war!” They set sail for Tinos with Theodoris Kyrantonis to take Petros back. The conflict ended abruptly, as soon as the pelican responded to Theodoris. Petros immediately recognized him and went straight to him. So Petros triumphantly returned to Mykonos to stay there forever.
Petros’ Legacy Lives on in Mykonos
Petros the Pelican – the superstar of Mykonos - remained the island's beloved mascot until 1985, when his death occurred. There is a lot of folklore surrounding the circumstances of his demise. According to his death certificate, the bird was about 33 years old. However, Petros’ death did not leave Mykonos pelican-less. Today three of his successors carry on his legacy. One of them is also called Petros.
For Mykonos, Petros the Pelican is much more than a tourist attraction. He is part of the shared legacy of the people. Grab the chance to meet Petros the Pelican – the Superstar of Mykonos -when you visit the island on one of our Mykonos tours: