Florida city cannot afford to keep descendants of swans donated by the Queen

A city in Florida is selling dozens of swans after a pair donated by the Queen in 1957 had too many descendants for them to cope with.

Lakeland, which has a swan as its symbol, gratefully received the first two birds decades ago but now is unable to afford the annual $10,000 cost of feeding them.

It is selling 36 in a public lottery to reduce overcrowding at Lake Morton, the swans’ home.

Kevin Cook, a city spokesman, told the New York Times: “The lake can only handle so many birds.”

Swans were synonymous with Lakeland, which has a human population of 112,000, a century ago.

But many were eaten by alligators and dogs, and by the 1950s they were all gone.

A woman in Lakeland, whose husband had been stationed in the UK with the US Air Force, wrote to the Queen asking if she could donate any swans.

According to Mr Cook a pair arrived, courtesy of the Queen, on Feb  7, 1957.

In the lottery the swans will be sold for $400 each and more than 60 would-be buyers have signed up.

The successful buyers have to guarantee they will give the swans a “healthy and safe habitat”.

Bob Donahay, Lakeland’s Director of Parks and Recreation, told CNN: “We currently have 80 swans here on Lake Morton to feed and care for, so we are looking to sell around 30 to 40 to ensure proper care for them all.

“We will have a great conversation about who the buyers are and what their plans are for the swan or swans.

“And then we also make ourselves readily available if any of the swans experience medical issues down the road.”

Every year the city has its “annual swan roundup” when it gathers up the swans from the lake for a medical check

Steve Platt, Parks and Recreation Supervisor, who is known locally as “The Swanfather,” said: “We gather the swans on Lake  Morton using catch boats, with our crews setting up a perimeter around the lake to help keep the swans on the water.

“It may take a little longer this year because we plan on having a swan sale.”

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