There’s no such thing as an “ugly duckling” at Lee Richardson Zoo. But there are 3 fluffy, grey Trumpeter swan cygnets that are now paddling around the pond with their mom and dad. Two of the cygnets (the proper term for baby swans) hatched on May 29, followed by another on the 30th. This is the successful culmination of years of effort by zoo staff.
Trumpeter swans form lifelong bonds with their mates and last year the pair at Lee Richardson Zoo showed marked progress when they produced a clutch of eggs for the first time on their new nesting island. The isolation provided by the floating island is essential for their sense of security while nesting, and thus increases the likelihood of hatching success. Last summer the swans nested but the eggs did not hatch. This year the swans faithfully incubated the eggs and we now have three adorable babies generating smiles all around.
Trumpeter swans are the largest species of swan. They were once fairly common throughout Canada and the northern United States. Due to trade in swan skins and feathers, their numbers reached a low of just 69 birds in the United States in 1932. But through concentrated efforts to conserve the species, they were removed from the Endangered Species list in the mid-1970s. Efforts continue to this day to reintroduce the species to various parts of their native territory. The cygnets just hatched at Lee Richardson Zoo may become part of this effort as our staff is currently communicating with a reintroduction program in Oregon.