The City of Lakeland successfully hatched Australian Black Swan eggs using an incubator - which may be a first.
Dr. Patricia Mattson with Companion Animal Hospital said, “We are so excited because there are no documented cases of Black Swan eggs successfully incubated before now. This is a great day for the swan program and our beautiful city.”
The City of Lakeland purchased a Lyon incubator to assist in hatching swan eggs -- particularly Australian Black Swan eggs. Steve Platt, City of Lakeland Parks & Recreation supervisor, said, “Black swans are not the greatest parents. Our birds neglect their young and don’t take very good care of their eggs. We have tried unsuccessfully with less expensive incubators but this year we had three eggs hatch.”
The incubator cost $3500. Australian Black Swans cost between $600-$800 per bird and the City currently has 20 black swans in its flock. The City of Lakeland purchased the first Australian Black Swans in the early 1990s.
“We are really excited because our Australian Black Swans haven’t produced any surviving offspring in the past seven years," Platt said.
Swans made their first appearance in Lakeland in the 1920s as people’s pets, but by 1954 the first population of swans was completely wiped out by predators and disease. In 1957, Lakeland resident Mrs. Robert Pickhardt, who was residing in England at the time, reached out to the Queen of England to help restore the city’s swan population. According to British law, the queen owns all of the swans along the Thames River in England.
Queen Elizabeth graciously donated a pair of mute swans from Richard the Lion-Hearted’s flock to Lakeland, provided the City would pay for the shipping and handling. The two swans adapted very well to their new home in Lakeland, where their offspring still thrive today.
Today, about 75 swans live in downtown Lakeland between Lake Morton and Lake Mirror. The swan population is made up of four species: Australian black swans, white mutes, South American black-necked swans and white Coscoroba swans.
The city of Lakeland performs an annual “swan round up” to administer wellness exams. City workers and volunteers travel the lakes by boat and capture Lakeland’s swan population. After the birds are caught, they are placed in holding pens where veterinarians check their health before releasing them back to their water front homes.