It turns out, catching swans isn’t as easy as you’d think.
Tuesday, one of Lakeland’s Parks and Recreation employees toppled head first into Lake Morton as he tried to net one of the city’s beloved birds.
“It’s kind of funny. The gentleman that fell into the water earlier, our parks and recreation employee Steve Platt, was just bragging that he hasn’t fallen into the water in the 19 years he has been doing this, and I think he jinxed himself,” Kevin Cook, the director of communications for the city of Lakeland said with a chuckle.
The swans are an iconic symbol in Lakeland. The original swans on were actually donated by Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom in 1957. As Lakeland’s swan flock grew, the city decided to have an annual checkup to keep the birds healthy. The Swan Roundup has been an annual tradition for 36 years.
You might be wondering why the swans would need a vet visit. Dr. Patricia Mattson, Lakeland’s official swan veterinarian, says it’s all about diet.
“Everyone loves to feed the swans. It has become a family tradition. The only bad thing: People love to feed the swans white bread. Just like you and I, too much white bread is bad for your health. Many of the swans have a calcium deficiency because they feast on bleached white bread,” Mattson added.
Lakeland city leaders recently added swan feeders around the lake as well. Families can use coins to buy swan food, which helps offset the $10,000 a year cost to the city to feed the domestic swans.