A cygnet is a baby swan – cute name – gorgeous animal. In Australia we have black swans which are grey fluff balls when they hatch. Samuel the cygnet came into care after being handed into a vet. He may have been abandoned or taken from his parents. Taking one of these delightful fluffy creatures from the wild can be tempting to some. Black swans are protected in Australia so removing them from the wild is illegal. When in care, swans and cygnets need expert care. Without the correct care, feeding and housing their growth and development will be compromised.
Swans have heavy bodies! Constantly walking on hard surfaces can cause abscesses which can lead to bumble foot which is a very painful disease in the foot. Housing swans in care means they need to spend considerable time in the water to avoid problems from occurring. Swans and cygnets can also develop angel wing which is a deformity in the wing caused by an unhealthy diet. So although they are incredibly cute – ensuring they receive the best care is vital.
Since Samuel’s needs were being met, he thrived in care and quickly grew like a weed!! He was housed in a large hotbox as a young cygnet then moved to an outdoor secure enclosure.
As he grew and gained weight he needed to spend time in the water. Luckily he had access to a very large swimming pool ! Samuel loved being in the water!
Samuel would spend hours diving, swimming and floating around in the water. This buoyancy meant that he was off his feet as well as developing the necessary muscles and skills to be able to search for food and escape predators by getting to water when he returned to the wild.
However, cygnets love their mum! They stay with their mum for about a year or two. Swimming can be such hard work so when the cygnet gets tired they just jump on mum’s back. And that’s exactly what Samuel did!
While swimming along together Samuel decided he wanted to hitch a ride! During this time we stayed in the water and he nuzzled my hair and ‘peeped’ (chatted) away to me happily.
After our swim the only problem was how to get Samuel off !!! He enjoyed swimming with me every day and most days he would climb on my back…. getting him off again was always the problem.
After our swim, there’s always time for a cuddle! You can see the bond that had been formed – which is necessary! All animals need love to enable them to grow and develop. Meeting an animals needs might enable them to develop, but as I mentioned before – we want them to thrive!!!!
What a beautiful face – his not mine! Just having a chat after our swim.
However, the biggest problem I faced was how to stop Samuel from becoming too attached to me (there’s nothing I could do to stop myself from becoming too attached to him!!) Then another swan arrived in care – however this one was a young adult. Samuel quickly bonded with the new swan
From then on, until release back into the wild – Samuel had a best friend. A friend that could teach him and be released with him. Release is always the hard part! We go into caring for animals knowing that we will one day release them (in fact that’s why I do this job) but it still comes with a little sadness when I say goodbye. Saying farewell to Samuel was one of the hardest goodbyes in my carer as a wildlife carer. Working with Samuel was such an amazing experience and one I’m so privileged to have had.
I’ll leave this story letting you know that if you head down to Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra and look out across the water … you may just see Samuel! ❤️
Instagram page – wombats_and_wildlife_heljan09.