If you’ve ever been to the Opera Bar or the Opera Kitchen under the Sydney Opera House forecourt on a warm summers day, you’ll know all about the certifiably batshit seagulls that ruthlessly swoop in and steal food from your plate when you’re not looking – and even when you are. They’re unrelenting and totally unafraid to divebomb in and take your chippies clean off your plate. I’ve seen it happen with my own two eyes.
In an effort to try and curb the seagulls from harassing people just trying to sit by the water and enjoy a nice meal – and reduce the amount of food wastage from the kitchen thanks to gull-tampered food – the Sydney Opera House has been trialling a Seagull Patrol. And yep, it’s a group of very good puppies and their trainers, stalking the foreshore to make sure the gulls keep away.
Over January, five dogs are the paw enforcement team of the Sydney Opera House, shooing off pesky seagulls and generally just being a very good help to not only the people having their lunch on the forecourt, but the staff who were getting swooped by the birds and then having to throw out a full meal of food before it even hit the table.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the Opera Bar and watched on as waitstaff brought out a piping hot plate of fish and chips to hungry customers, only to be bombarded with unrelenting winged sky-rats, and then walking back into the kitchen to dump the now-pecked-at food in the bin without missing a beat. It’s pure art, but it also means that a metric fuckload of food is being thrown away thanks to idiot birds trying to cop a free feed.
Opera Kitchen general manager Trevelyan Bale says that his staff feel so much safer while waiting on tables out near the water’s edge, the Opera Bar team say that the paw patrol trial has cut down around 80% of wasted food, which is incredible, really
“We haven’t had a single meal replacement since the dogs have been on duty, and the patrons love interacting with the dogs,” Trevelyan said. “It’s been a huge success.”
Who thought that a couple of dogs parading around the open-air restaurant would save literally hundreds of bucks (and thousands of chippies) a day, and a lifetime of mild PTSD from being consistently swooped by unhinged ravenous birds while you’re on the clock?
The pooches are always on-leash with their trainers from Mad Dogs and Englishmen, and will be on guard between 12-4pm for the rest of January (for now) so trot down there for a friendly pat and some bird-free bites.