Hans Christian Andersen may have called them “ugly ducklings” but at Lee Richardson Zoo we think they’re quite cute. There are 4 fluffy, grey swan cygnets paddling around the pond with their mom and dad. The Trumpeter swan cygnets hatched on Saturday, May 31 after an incubation period of 33-37 days. This is the second successful clutch of offspring for the zoo’s adult pair, Cliff age 12 and Catherine age 15.
Trumpeter swans form lifelong bonds with their mates and last year the pair at Lee Richardson Zoo hatched their first set of cygnets. This is the third year the pair has taken advantage of the privacy afforded them by a floating island, utilizing the island as the site for their nest. The first year with the island the swans laid a clutch of eggs, and even though it was progress from the years prior, no cygnets hatched.
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, just as last year’s cygnets did, as our staff is once again communicating with a reintroduction program in Oregon.