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Oops! Maria the goose is actually a Mario

March 3, 2011 |  5:19 pm

Goose Maria the Goose, who became a media sensation last month when photographed flying alongside an Echo Park Lake visitor’s motor scooter, turns out to be Mario the Gander.

Experts at the Los Angeles Zoo made that discovery after city officials arranged to have the graylag fowl relocated there to make way for an upcoming park renovation project, goose benefactor Dominic Ehrler said Thursday.

The newly renamed Mario will remain in quarantine at the zoo for 30 days before being put on public display, Ehrler said. The gander was moved from Echo Park because animal activists feared harm might befall him because his newfound fame, Ehrler said.

“He’s Mario now. But I’ll call him Maria if he doesn’t respond to Mario,” said Ehrler, 65, who fed the goose tortillas daily at the park before leading the bird on his scooter down Park Avenue.

Other geese –- and ganders -- at Echo Park Lake will be placed in a fenced-off corner of the park during the lake’s upcoming draining. The park makeover will take two years and cost $64.7 million. Earlier, officials had considered relocating the birds to other city park lakes.

“I saw her Monday at the zoo,” Ehrler said of his friend. “She was fine, but seemed disoriented.”

Probably from suffering an identity crisis.

-- Bob Pool


A match of man and goose

Photo: Dominic Ehrler and Maria/Mario before the gander's move to the L.A. Zoo. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times