Keepers of the peace are used to dealing with people from all walks of life, but this one was more likely to waddle. It sounds quackers, but this desperate goose needed help – and fast – so it approached a police officer.
May 9, 2016 started as an ordinary Monday for Sergeant James Givens, a long-serving member of the Cincinnati Police Department. While resting in his stationary patrol car, however, he heard a strange tapping noise.
It didn’t sound like a person knocking on the vehicle, though. And, sure enough, when Givens peered outside, it wasn’t a man or a woman he saw but a frantic-looking goose. Perhaps the bird was really hungry, the sergeant thought, so he gave it some food.
“I was sitting in a patrol car in a parking lot, I heard something pecking on the side of the door and I looked down and I thought the goose was hungry,” Givens told Inside Edition. “I was eating a bagel and I tossed it a piece but it didn’t have any.”
The bird’s feathers were clearly ruffled about something; it’s not like geese to approach humans if they’re not after food, after all. Was this one trying to tell Givens something?
“It kept pecking and pecking,” Givens explained to Cincinnati news show Local 12. “Then it walked away and then it stopped and looked back so I followed it.” The goose, it turned out, wanted to lead him to a situation that urgently required human intervention.
It soon became clear that this goose was a mother goose and that one of her goslings had got itself into a spot of bother. The little creature’s only chance was being rescued by a person’s dexterous hands.
The baby bird had become stuck in a piece of string – from a Mother’s Day balloon, of all things – near Cincinnati’s Mill Creek. For his part, Givens followed mother goose for around 100 yards until he saw the little gosling’s feet kicking. “She led me straight to him,” he told Local 12.
In his interview with Inside Edition, the sergeant said he wasn’t sure why he didn’t drive off when the goose came calling. “They never came that close to me in the police car before, I was just amazed how she didn’t attack us,” he explained. “I was a little nervous.”
Givens was right to be cautious; geese are known to attack humans when protecting their youngsters. Before he intervened he therefore thought it best to phone ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – but no rescuers were on hand.
Cecilia Charron, another police officer who happened to be in the area, agreed to come to the gosling’s – and indeed Givens’ – aid. On arrival she approached the baby bird while the sergeant recorded the rescue on his cellphone.
Givens uploaded the video to YouTube shortly afterwards, and in a matter of days it had been watched more than three million times. The story has since been covered by the likes of nydailynews.com and The Huffington Post.
Cincinnati Police Department is rightly proud of its officers’ efforts. Lieutenant Colonel Paul Neudigate, the department’s assistant police chief, tweeted, “Specialist Charron, thanks for a great job!”
Social media users went crazy for the video. Some commenters praised Cincinnati police for being “the best in the world;” others couldn’t resist a pun. Hats off to YouTube’s charlie c, who came up with “bad cops and goose cops.”
Meanwhile, Givens was somewhat taken aback by the fact that the goose understood that he and Charron were there to help. “I always thought that they were afraid of people and people say they will attack you if you get close to their young’uns,” he told Local 12. “I was just surprised.”
A watchful momma goose kept her distance as Charron held the gosling and gradually freed it from its tangle. Givens reckons Charron’s “motherly instinct,” which may have been recognized by the elder bird, helped during the rescue operation.
“The mother goose didn’t bother her,” Givens told the TV station. “It took her a while because it was all wrapped up.” Indeed, the sergeant’s YouTube video runs for over three minutes.
Yet while there’s a happy ending to this gosling’s story, its rescue highlights how dangerous balloons can be to animals. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service birds – and other creatures like turtles – often try to eat them, which can be fatal.
When Charron untied the gosling and lowered it to the ground it darted towards the creek alongside its mom. In almost a quarter of a century of service, the officer later said, this was the incident she’d remember the most fondly.
“It makes me wonder,” Givens told The Dodo, “do they know to turn to humans when they need help?” The events of May 9 may have left the officer pondering the answers to a few questions, but the gosling’s rescue has certainly had a positive effect. “I hope it might inspire more compassion in other people,” he added.