Swans are beautiful, graceful birds. But surely Florida’s native birds, such as herons, ibis, egrets or cranes equal the beauty of a swan?
Downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola Park has been home to mute and black swans for many years. The story is that an Orlando businessman purchased a group of swans in England around 1910 and had them shipped to Florida for his amusement. Fast forward almost 100 years and a group of swan fanciers wants to purchase and bring to Lake Eola for display individuals from each of the world’s swan species– including Black-necked Swans (native to South America), Whooper Swans (common in Iceland) and Bewick’s Swan (found in Russia and China).
Last week, ARFF sent a letter to the City of Orlando urging them to scrap this plan, for the welfare of the swans as well as the health of native Florida waterfowl (click here to download ARFF’s letter). Yesterday, the Orlando Sentinel wrote about the issue; read the article here.
Photo: whooper swans arrive at the Orlando airport on April 23; photo by the Orlando Sentinel
The group behind the idea to make Lake Eola into a swan zoo is Regal Swan, based in Kissimmee. In yesterday’s article, Regal Swan’s CEO Sheila Bolin responded to our concerns. She claimed that it doesn’t matter that the swans will have their wings clipped to keep them at Lake Eola because the birds were born in captivity. We believe that birds want to fly, regardless of whether they were born in the wild or captivity. Swans are meant to fly great distances; it is cruel to rob them of that ability. Ms. Bolin also dismissed our concerns about Lake Eola potentially becoming overpopulated with swans; she said that when there are too many swans, they’ll just give away the extras.
One of the most common problems suffered by swans on urban lakes is an inadequate diet of white bread and other handouts (when swans fill their stomachs with bread, they are not getting the nutrients they need to be healthy). Ms. Bolin claims that the swans at Lake Eola are fed cracked corn, which she said was “better than what they can forage on their own.” If that’s true, then Regal Swan wouldn’t have a problem with Lake Eola Park banning public feeding of swans. Currently, the Parks Division encourages visitors to feed the swans. Besides white bread, we’ve seen people feed swans Cheetos!
Please send a quick e-mail to Regal Swan and urge them to push for a ban on public feeding of swans at Lake Eola. If they are truly concerned about the health of these birds, a ban on public feeding is appropriate.
Send a copy of your e-mail to Lisa Early, director of Orlando’s Parks & Recreation Dept.
Please let us know if you get a response!