Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Last Trumpeter Swan Update

In early December World Bird Sanctuary received two Trumpeter Swans that had been shot.  These swans were a mated pair, and their bond was seen by all of us working with the swans in our wildlife hospital.  The female was the more seriously injured of the two, and her wing bones were pinned back together in the hope that it would heal well enough for her to be able to fly.  The male’s break was wrapped and immobilized, and although his injury was less serious than the female, great care had to be taken with him, too. 

On 26 January, the Trumpeter Swans went back to the vet to see how their wing injuries had healed so that they could be assessed for release back to the wild.  The pins in the female were removed, and the male’s wrap was removed for the last time.

Unfortunately the pair was deemed unreleasable.   The bullets didn’t kill them, but the damage proved to be enough so the birds could never fly again.  This was a huge disappointment to all of us at WBS, but especially to our hospital staff and volunteers, who worked so hard on caring for these wonderful and magnificent animals.  However, the decision was made to acquire the necessary permits to be able to keep the swans and create an exhibit in which the swans would live as captive birds.  Our hope was that, as a mated pair, they would produce babies for us, and with permission we could release the babies back to the wild. 
On Tuesday 2 February the female swan underwent surgery to amputate the end of her injured wing, where the bones had died and needed to be removed.  Despite the best efforts of the medical team working on her, she did not survive the surgery.  Shortly after, the male swan stopped eating.  Despite the efforts of our rehabilitators who tube fed him and tried many techniques to encourage him to eat on his own, the male swan passed away on Saturday 6 February.

This has been a devastating turn of events for all of the staff and volunteers who worked so hard on keeping these birds alive and viable for release.  When release was not an option, the focus turned to getting them well enough to be outside in an enclosure where they could breed so that their offspring could be released.  Also, being outside would allow visitors to our site to be able to enjoy them.

Wildlife rehabilitation is a physically and emotionally demanding job for staff and volunteers.  Anyone who has put their heart and soul into keeping a bird alive will know the joy of seeing them released back into the wild.  They will also know the extreme disappointment and devastation that comes from doing everything they can to keep an animal alive, and realizing that sometimes it is not meant to be.  We are very appreciative of all the interest and support from our staff, volunteers, supporters and members of the public during the treatment of these swans.  The loss of these swans is felt by all of us at World Bird Sanctuary.

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