Lincoln Park Zoo’s 14-year-old male trumpeter swan was a sight visitors were used to seeing as he glided alongside his mate in the zoo’s pond. He began to exhibit neurological problems approximately one month ago and as his condition deteriorated, veterinarians decided it was best to euthanize him.
This particular swan is an important piece of Illinois conservation history, and as these swans mate for life, he produced 37 chicks with his partner. A male chick produced by the pair in 2004 has become part of the first recorded trumpeter swan pair to nest in Illinois since 1847. The younger pair built a nest in 2006 and raised a clutch of chicks on wetland in Savanna, Illinois.
34 of the historic pair’s chicks have been successfully released in the wild through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which has a successful campaign to reintroduce trumpeter swans into restored wetlands.
Due to overhunting before the Civil War, Trumpeters disappeared from Illinois and only a few dozen were left anywhere in the early 20th century. They were thought to be extinct until a tiny flock was discovered in Yellowstone National Park. The swans are making a comeback thanks to the efforts of state conservation departments who have been working to restore wetlands that were drained for agriculture.
The zoo is now looking for a new mate for its female swan.