Charity rescues distressed swan dyed jet black by ‘unknown substance'

17 February 2021, 16:28

The distressed swan was saved by the RSPCA and Swan Support.
The distressed swan was saved by the RSPCA and Swan Support. Picture: RSPCA

By Joe Cook

A distressed swan has been saved by a team of animal rescuers after it was dyed jet black by an unknown substance.

On Saturday, a rescue operation was launched to save the bird after a member of the public spotted it in a pond off Mane Way in Westbury, Wiltshire.

A team of animal rescuers from the RSPCA worked with Swan Support to catch him before he was taken to a specialist wildlife centre.

The swan was taken to RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre where he will be cleaned several times to get rid of the black powdery substance.

The animal care team said the substance was similar to printer toner or graphite.

Deep cleaning the swans can take two members of staff 30 minutes for each wash to fully remove the contaminate.

The RSPCA said the swan was covered in an unknown substance similar to printer toner.
The RSPCA said the swan was covered in an unknown substance similar to printer toner. Picture: RSPCA
The deep cleaning of a swan can take up to 30 minutes for each wash, the RSPCA say.
The deep cleaning of a swan can take up to 30 minutes for each wash, the RSPCA say. Picture: RSPCA

RSPCA Inspector Miranda Albinson said: “A rescue operation was put in place to save the swan and we’re grateful for everyone who made it possible.

“The bird was preening to try and clean off the substance but while they are doing this they are not feeding and they will become weak so we have to act fast before this happens.

“If a substance like this is not removed from waterbirds it reduces the natural waterproofing in their plumage, leaving them at risk of dying from hypothermia - so it is vital that they are treated as soon as possible.”

The swan is recovering well at the RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre.
The swan is recovering well at the RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre. Picture: RSPCA

The RSPCA say the swan will continue to be given the "care he desperately needs" ahead of its release back into the wild.

However, Ms Albinson said they have concerns about a second swan who may have been covered in the substance.

“We are concerned for a second swan, the mate of the swan who was rescued, as we know they had been affected by the substance but managed to fly away so would encourage anyone who sees any birds in a black substance in this area to call us on 0300 1234 999.”

The charity say they have already received more than 82,000 calls to their rescue line for animals experiencing neglect, cruelty and suffering.

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