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November 20, 2009

Mute Swan Trumpets Injuries

After being struck by car, swan treated at Cape Wildlife Center

The Humane Society of the United States/The Fund for Animals

by Roberto Aguilar, DVM

  • Volunteer Nancy Vanderhoeven releases the swan from the carrier into a pond with no other swans around. Heather Fone/HSUS

  • Back in his element, the swan was eager to be in the water. Heather Fone/HSUS

  • The beautiful mute swan comes off as haughty and aggressive and for good reason: He is. Heather Fone/HSUS

  • A veterinary technician witnessed the accident between car and swan, and as soon as her work shift was over, she transported him down to the Cape Wildlife Center. Heather Fone/HSUS

  • The day after he was released, the swan had flown away, most likely to find a pond to call his own. Heather Fone/The HSUS

A mute swan had the bad luck of getting hit by a car recently on a major freeway on Cape Cod. Fortunate for him, though, at least it happened in front of an emergency veterinary practice, where a very concerned technician witnessed the accident.

Aware they couldn't treat wildlife due to permiting issues, she placed the aggressive and stunned bird in a kennel and kept a close eye on him for the rest of her shift.

As soon as her shift was over, she transported the swan down to Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Mass. Not unexpectedly, he was shaky and unstable, but he also had serious neurologic deficits (we could tell because he tiptoed -- never a good sign).

Over the next three days, with the help of fluids, anti-inflamatories and analgesics, he recovered fully. He appeared sore, but was healthy and back to threatening staff after a few days, typical swan behavior.

Following full recovery after a week, the beautiful bird was released onto a large pond with no other swans-- swans are highly territorial and will defend their ponds--and away from any traffic. He trumpeted and flapped his wings on release by longtime volunteer Nancy Vanderhoeven. The next day, he'd flown away.

Dr. Aguilar is the veterinarian and interim director of Cape Wildlife Center.

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