A male swan guards its nest at Moonee Ponds in Melbourne after its female partner was killed. (AAP: Julian Smith)
It was a fateful day on Wednesday when the rash behavior of some teens resulted in the death of a nesting female swan at Queens Park, Moonee Ponds but the Melbourne zoo has stepped in to help the male swan hatch the lone egg.
According to eye-witness accounts some teenage boys threw an object at the nesting mother on Wednesday that resulted in head injury and later killed it. The police did not take the incident lightly and spoke to three of the four boys involved and are charging them with aggravated cruelty.
What the incident also prompted is the action of the father swan that while also grieving the loss of its mate, has remained sitting on the single egg since the attack.
The swans were the only nesting birds in the pond and now the Moonee Valley Council has decided to transfer the egg to Melbourne zoo to give it safe conditions to hatch in an incubator. The shift, though, will only take place after the father swan voluntarily moves away from the nest and the egg.
“We will continue to monitor the swan, who is currently still attending to the nest,” Moonee Valley City Council environment executive manager Scott Widdicombe said. “Council is extremely concerned that it may be detrimental to the male swan to try and take the egg prematurely.”
According to Melbourne Zoo native fauna curator Peter Courtney the move is essential for both the unhatched baby and the father swan. Because the father is all alone right now, it will have to single-handedly look after the egg, feed itself and also save itself from predators like foxes.
“He’s more vulnerable now as a solitary parent looking after the egg. He’s got to sit [on the egg], he’s got to feed himself and maintain the egg, it’s a lot of work for him,” he said.
He also predicted that while it may take some time for the male swan to recover from its loss, it will eventually look for a new mate.
“In the wild, animals do lose mates and they do then form new bonds. He will recover, it will take awhile though,” he said.
Although right now it is difficult to predict whether the egg will survive or not, if the egg hatches, the zoo will raise the baby and later free it back into the wild.