In dramatic fashion, city of Lakeland sells dozens of swans

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Eighteen people will soon welcome two feathery friends after the city of Lakeland held a lottery to find homes for three dozen of its swans.

“I am so excited!” exclaimed Sandra Jarrett with a gasp when she found out her number was chosen. “Oh my gosh, that is wonderful!”

It was clear the city had fun with the swan sale on Friday, treating it as a highly anticipated sporting event.

“Welcome to the 2020 swan lottery!” declared communications director Kevin Cook.

“With the first selection of the 2020 draft…” said parks & recreation director Bob Donahay.

It was Lakeland’s first swan sale since 2014.

Thirty six swans were sold to 18 lottery winners on Friday.

Each winner vowed to pay the city $400 for each bird.

There were 86 swans counted between Lake Morton and Lake Mirror during the city’s annual swan roundup in early October.

The city sold the prized royal swans due to overpopulation. The original swans on Lake Morton were donated by Queen Elizabeth in 1957. 

“When the population swells, unfortunately, they want to nest across the street, nesting in different locations. Swans are creatures of habit also, wherever they nest initially, they’ll go back there every year,” said Donahay. “You have cars circling around the lake, bad things are gonna happen when the population swells.”

The prospective buyers had to agree to provide a safe water environment for the swans.

Each lottery winner is buying two swans.

“We actually give a printed piece of information telling them what kind of food we feed them, hen stay away from bread, harmful items like that. We also recommend, they are pinned, they shouldn’t be flying all over the place,” said Donahay.

At Jarrett’s property in Plant City, the swans will join a bevy of rescue animals.

“We have the good fortune of a nice piece of property and a nice pond for them. When I saw the opportunity, I was like, ‘I need those swans’!” she said.

Jarrett, and the other buyers, can pick up their swans on Oct. 29.

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