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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Ugly Duckling...Swanling

A definite highlight of our day today, was going to a park for a stroll with some friends in the beautiful weather.
I love the new birth that Spring brings. We saw ducklings and cygnets everywhere.

Until today, I hadn’t realised how familial / territorial swans are. There were certainly plenty of incidences of male swans attacking other swans if the stranger swan came too close to the family group. Unfortunately, (we soon learnt) if you happen to be an orphaned cygnet, then you either have to become very pond-savvy very quickly, or your chances of survival are severely decreased.

The kids found a very young cygnet stranded against a drain grill, petrified by the rushing waterfall next to it. They rescued it and we brought it to the edge of the pond, hoping that some swan might either identify it as its own, or another random swan might look after it…..but pond life doesn’t appear to have uphold such niceties. Within seconds of swimming around, a male swan started viciously pecking the cygnet and picking it up out of the water by the neck and dashing it down again! We were absolutely horrified!

We managed to rescue the cygnet for a second time, this time much worse for wear than the first time. It reminded me so much of a hurt child, who so badly needs its mom. The kids cuddled the cygnet, who snuggled into the warmth of their arms and soon stopped its shivering.

We decided to take the cygnet (now named “Fluffy”!) to the neighbouring zoo, convinced that the animal-lovers at the zoo would take the cygnet and bring it up till it was ready to stand on its own! How wrong we were. We were told in no uncertain terms that the zoo has strict policies and that we just needed to let nature take its course. Life can be so tough for some young ‘uns….anyway, we found a pond that didn’t have any swans, and gently introduced Fluffy to his new environment, hoping that he would survive. He seemed so young, so fragile, so needy, so vulnerable...

Fluffy seemed to want to stay with us…it was so hard to have to leave him, knowing that his chances of survival were probably not too good. The kids were bereft.

Fortunately, a crowd gathered when they saw us with the cute cygnet, and Fluffy was soon engrossed with kids bearing large bags of delicious fresh bread. I left wondering if Fluffy’s parents had been there, whether they would’ve warned him not to eat too much…. or he might get a very sore tummy?!

I guess it might be too much to hope that Fluffy found a nice bunch of feathered friends to snuggle up with during the night.

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