A Florida city is selling dozens of its beloved swans to the public after the birds donated by Her Majesty The Queen led to overpopulation.
According to the city of Lakeland, swans have lived in the city since at least 1923. But by 1953, the swans had been eaten by alligators or, they were fallen prey to dogs. A Lakeland woman living in England at the time wrote The Queen to ask for a gift of swans.
According to historians, The Queen agreed as long as Floridians raised $300 to capture and safely import the breeding pair. While awaiting transport, a barge sank in London’s Thames River which covered the birds in oil and delayed their journey.
After they were cleaned off, they were successfully delivered to the sunshine state on 9 February 1957. Within a week, the pair went missing and a frantic helicopter search went on until they were safely rediscovered.
The given pair bred, and now 36 mute swans are being sold. The city, which has the bird as its symbol did a “wellness check” on the flock prior to the sale. Proceeds of the sale will go towards their $10,000 (£7,700) annual feeding budget.
Parks and Recreation Supervisor Steve Platt, also known as “The Swanfather” told the Lakeland Ledger newspaper, “it will be hard to say goodbye.”
The swans live around Lake Morton in the city which is home to about 112,000 people. The city is charging $400 (about £310) per swan. Buyers are chosen via raffle and will be contacted about pick-up information.
There were previous swan sales in 2011 and 2014. Anyone who lives near a fresh body of water is eligible to apply for the lottery.