OKC ZOO WELCOMES THREE 'SWANS-A-SWIMMING'
December 22, 2017
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens is pleased to announce the arrival of three trumpeter swans, a mated pair, Sam and Olivia, and their six-month-old male cygnet. These three ‘swans-a-swimming’ were donated by Kevin Drees, director of animal collections, upon his move to Oklahoma City from Iowa earlier this year.
“Sam and Olivia inhabited a pond on my family’s acreage for about 15 years. My wife and sons were thrilled they were able to move with us to Oklahoma City,” Drees said. “This species has been part of our connection and concern for native wildlife for many years. It is the Zoo’s hope that the swans living here will produce more cygnets to be released as part of its commitment to assisting with wildlife conservation efforts.”
With a 7-foot wingspan, trumpeter swans are the largest bird species native to North America. Historically nesting on lakes and marshes in a wide band across the northern United States, Canada and Alaska, nearly all of the population east of the Rocky Mountains was eradicated in the late 1800s as a result of hunting and habitat loss.
“While the Zoo doesn’t take animal donations, the trumpeter swans represented a special case,” said Eddie Witte, curator of birds, carnivores and small mammals. “When we discovered Kevin had these birds available, we contacted the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and they approved of the Zoo accepting the swans. This fits in with the OKC Zoo’s plan to be a part of a great conservation program.”
During the last 20 years, the trumpeter swan population in the Midwest has grown from a few hundred birds to a reproducing population of more than 4,500. The Oklahoma Wildlife Diversity Program reports that after a long absence, trumpeter swans are once again being spotted in Oklahoma during the winter. More information about the Zoo’s trumpeter swans and swan conservation efforts are online at okczoo.org/blog.
“This species has benefitted greatly from a series of restoration efforts,” Witte said. “In fact, plans are underway to re-introduce the Zoo’s male cygnet back into the wild next summer.”
In addition to viewing the trumpeter swans at the waterfowl ponds near the front entrance of the Zoo, guests can also see wild new additions Francesca the pygmy hippopotamus in the pachyderm habitat and the newborn lowland gorilla at the Great EscApe.
Make this season bright with a visit to the Oklahoma City Zoo. The OKC Zoo is a proud member of Oklahoma City’s Adventure District located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $11 for adults, and $8 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.okczoo.org. Facebook: okczoobg; Instagram: @okczoo; Twitter: @okczoo. For more great stories about the OKC ZOO, visit okczoo.org/blog.