This week, the Internet got wind of a man who allegedly bench-pressed a goose for 10 minutes at an L.A. park. Even more adorably, according to the actor who photographed the event, the goose was totally loving it.
We obviously had to get to the bottom of this.
Who is the man (and goose) behind the urban legend?
Lowell Tweeted that after bench-pressing the goose, the man "cradled it, tickled its tummy and then it walked away." And over email, he gave us some more heartwarming details about this miraculously cooperative animal and the man whom he calls "the Goose Whisperer."
"We saw it across the pond from us at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights Sunday afternoon. At first I thought he was lifting a baby ... but no, it was a goose."
"He did not seem homeless as he had a bag of bread or something that he was feeding to the other geese and ducks at the park. He seemed more like a Goose Whisperer."
So the man obviously has some kind of ongoing relationship with the white goose, and at least a friendly acquaintance with the rest of Hollenbeck Park's resident fowl.
It didn't take much of an online investigation to discover a slew of coverage, about three years ago, of a very special love event going down at Hollenbeck -- between a certain Mr. Hernandez and a goose named Chacho.
A storybook created for children, by children in summer 2009 -- apparently a school project at Sycamore School in Claremont -- lays out the saga of Hernandez and Chacho. Here's the online version:
In case it's taking forever to load, we'll do a quick recap.
Mr. Hernandez originally bought Chacho at a pet shop, thinking he was a duck. But when Chacho grew into a full-blown honker, the neighbors started complaining about the noise. (Classic L.A. urban-farming feud!) So the man brought the goose to Hollenbeck Park. At first Chacho was sad -- we might have shed a single tear, circa page 10 -- but soon he learned to wait patiently for his owner's visits. And, because the other birds started getting "jealous" of all the snacks that Hernandez brought for Chacho, the man began to bring enough to go around.
But the part that really brings the story back to Lowell's "Goose Whisperer" is the BFF montage of Hernandez and Chacho napping together, playing together and generally loving each other to death.
Sounds like the kind of bond that could lead to a good 10-minute bench-press on Sunday afternoon, are we right?
Turns out the Los Angeles Times also ran a full-fledged feature on the pair back in February 2009. Reporter Bob Pool describes the goosekeeper as 60-year-old West Los Angeles electrician Jesus Hernandez, and echoes the story of the neighbor complaints that led to biweekly visits at Hollenbeck.
"This is Chacho, and he is my best friend," Hernandez told the paper. "I love him and he loves me."
Oh man. This just got way too cute for comfort. From the story:
Visitors to Hollenbeck Park stop and stare when they see the huge white bird swim across the park's lake, climb into Jesus Hernandez's arms and give him a love peck.
They watch in amazement as Hernandez tosses the goose back into the water and it ducks its head gleefully beneath the surface. Then it shakes off the drops and paddles back to the shore for another toss.
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(Then city officials have to come into the story all buzz-kill and remind us that they "do not condone the dumping of pets in parks." Like anything at Hollenbeck could ever be as awesome and tourism-driving as Chacho and his human. They'll never understand!)
Of course, we haven't confirmed that Hernandez is indeed the "Goose Whisperer" of whom the Internet speaks. But given the absurd nature of Lowell's sighting, we're thinking this is a pretty good lead.
Do you know Hernandez and Chacho? Any idea if they've taken up a bench-pressing ritual as of late? Do share.