Greylag goose

(Anser anser)




Facts about this animal

The greylag goose is a large goose with a body-weight in males of about 3.5 to 3.8 kg, in females about 2.7 to 3.1 kg.


Nests may be fairly concentrated. The female lays 5-6 white eggs and incubates them for 28-29 days.

Greylag geese consume a wide variety of food, mainly plant material they forage on land, such as grass, roots, leaves, stems, seed-heads, and sprouts of different plants, in winter complemented with agricultural crops.

Did you know?
that the greylag goose has been domesticated in Europe about 3,500 years ago? Today, the global population of domestic geese counts 220 million birds. Depending of the breed they may reach a body-weight of up to 12 kgs.


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Anser anser
Name (English) Greylag goose
Name (French) Oie cendrée
Name (German) Graugans
Name (Spanish) Ansar común
Local names Czech: Husa velká
Dutch: Grauwe gans
Estonian: Hallhani, Roohani
Finnish: Merihanhi
Greek: Stachtóchina
Hungarian: Nyári lud
Italian: Oca selvatica
Polish: Gegawa
Portugiese: Ganso-comum
Romansh: Uca grischa
Swedish: Grågås
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.) Included in AEWA



Photo Copyright by
Matthias Zepper



Range Anser a. anser: Breeding range is Europe east to the Caucasus, winters in Europe, North Africa, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Anser a. rubirostris Breeding range is central and eastern Russia, Mongolia and Northern China, winters in the Near and Middle East, and Indochina.
Habitat During the breeding season greylag geese live in lowland wetlands or offshore islands. Outside of the breeding season they spend time in fresh-and salt-water marshes, estuaries, pastures and cultivated fields.
Wild population Global population estimated to be between 920,000 and970,000 individuals by Wetlands International (2002).
Zoo population 551 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo

Greylag goose


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 17 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The greylag goose is not threatened in the wild, and zoos keep it primarily for educational reasons, because it is the ancestor of the domestic goose. Outside the breeding season, greylag geese may be kept in walk-thru exhibits allowing for close encounters and are thus a good ambassador species for wetland conservation.