Co-star of 1976 classic children’s film ‘Storm Boy’, Mr Percival has passed away at Adelaide Zoo, at the ripe old age of 33 years. Adapted from a book by Colin Thiele, the story is about Mike, growing up on the wild Coorong coast in SA and raising three orphan pelican chicks. Eventually two return to the wild, but Mr P stays with his friend. It won 1977 AFI Best Film Award.
Despite his star status Mr Percival had lived modestly at the zoo since 1989, taking the name ‘Gringo’ to avoid groupies and fit in with his pelican companions, sharing their feeding routines. In recent years news of the decline of pelican populations in the Coorong, due to severe salinity in this Murray River estuary, may have depressed him. Otherwise he passed away peacefully.
Mr Percival survived Thiele’s death by three years, and is himself survived by his partner Alto and their seven children, the last born last year. Vale a movie legend, who truly incarnated the Dixon Lanier Merritt poem:
A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.