How Lakeland’s iconic birds stay healthy

As the symbol of our city, the majestic swans that surround Lake Morton were originally donated by Queen Elizabeth in 1957. As the flock continued to grow, it became increasingly important to better care for these beloved swans. In 1980, Lakeland established the Swan Roundup and has continued this annual health checkup every year since.

It’s important to conduct these regular checkups “to establish, monitor, and maintain overall health of the flock,” says Dr. Patricia Mattson, veterinarian at Companion Animal Hospital.

Mattson graduated from Auburn University and then went on to open Companion Animal Hospital in 2009. She has over 20 years of experience in veterinary medicine and donates her time as Lakeland’s official swan veterinarian.

The annual checkup consists of a variety of health exams. Mattson and her staff weigh the swans, perform a physical exam, and vaccinate against Botulism Toxoid. They enter the physical stats into each swan’s files and conduct further examination if there are any abnormalities in their physical condition. “Every swan is equipped with a unique microchip that enables us to monitor the statistical data from year to year,” says Mattson.

In addition to the annual health check, Mattson and her team worked with the City to develop an awareness program that addressed the swans’ over-consumption of bread and the negative health effects caused by that. As a result, there are now five coin-operated pellet machines around Lake Morton that provide the public with a healthier feeding option. “Our flock is healthy, and we are honored to be part of the team taking care of Lakeland’s beloved swans,” says Mattson.