Sam and Olivia, the Oklahoma City Zoo’s trumpeter swan pair, are parents again! OKC Zoo caretakers noted Olivia laid her clutch of four eggs by Tuesday, May 29 and had been dutifully incubating ever since. When the eggs were inspected to see if they demonstrated any signs of fertility, one of the four showed signs of viability.
Happily, on Friday, June 29, the egg did produce a new cygnet (baby swan) and it appears to be healthy, already venturing out to explore its new home and pond.
Sam and Olivia, along with a previous offspring, arrived at the Zoo in June 2017. In May, the cygnet, just shy of his first birthday, was released into the wild as part of a program to restore trumpeter swan populations in Iowa and surrounding states. Zoo caretakers expect the new arrival will also be released into the wild as part of the same conservation effort.
The trumpeter swans can be found at Oklahoma Trails sharing space with the white-tailed deer. Their nest is located on the east side of the pond located inside the habitat.
Oklahoma lies south of the species’ historic nesting range, but at one time, it was the wintering home for many hundreds, perhaps thousands of trumpeter swans. History is now repeating itself while growing numbers of trumpeter swans are once again wintering in western Oklahoma as the Midwestern population recovers. The Oklahoma Wildlife Diversity Program assists the Trumpeter Swan Society, a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota that helps to track and monitor the birds.
By the early 1930s, only 69 trumpeter swans remained in the lower 48 states. Beginning in the 1960s, state and federal agencies, private individuals and zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums began a series of restoration efforts to return the trumpeter swans to the Midwest through releases into Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. During the last 20 years, their population has grown from a few hundred released birds to a thriving, reproducing population of over 4,500 birds.
Photo Credit: Tracey Dolphin-Drees