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 then.
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.
Ensuring the reproduction of healthy swans is also an important part of preserving the living species for generations to come. A few years ago, the city launched a swan egg incubator program located at Companion Animal Hospital on Bartow Road.
This past week, city officials were excited to announce the birth of Lakeland’s first black-necked swan cygnet, born over four weeks ago and successfully hatched in the city’s incubator.
Steve Platt, a grounds maintenance supervisor with the city, noticed the swan parents made a nest at Lake Morton, and sitting in the nest were three eggs. The swan parents and eggs were monitored daily until it was safe to retrieve the eggs and transfer them to the city’s special swan egg incubator to be cared for by Dr. Mattson and her staff.
It is extremely rare for a black-neck swan egg to survive incubation. Swan eggs are incubated at a temperature of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and at a humidity of about 60 percent.
“The eggs are typically turned slightly every four hours until a few days before the eggs hatch. Swan eggs must be turned very carefully to prevent the inner membrane from tearing loose from the outer shell of the egg, a problem that often results in the death of the developing swan, so great care goes into swan egg incubation.”
– Attributed from a recent Press Release; Incubated Black-Neck Swan Cygnet Hatches.
The city will relocate the cygnet to Lake Morton once it’s ready to survive on its own.