LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Lakeland’s royal swans, dating back to a gift from Queen Elizabeth II 70 years ago, were checked out by veterinarians Wednesday.
Parks workers flocked to Lake Morton on Tuesday to round up the 50 birds for their annual physicals. The practice began in 1980 after a local veterinarian offered his services to the city.
“We will be taking all of these swans one by one and giving each of them a physical exam, weighing them, checking for any infections, any wounds, any problems that would need to be addressed,” veterinarian Price Dickson explained during the round-up.
The swans have called Lake Morton home since 1957. Decades after the city’s swan population died off, Lakeland natives living in London decided to ask Queen Elizabeth II to donate a pair of mute swans.
From there, Lakeland’s identity as the “Swan City” was born. The birds can be spotted across the city in the form of statues and other works of art, including the City of Lakeland logo.
“It’s almost a rite of passage for people to come down and feed the swans,” a city spokesperson told WFLA last year. “Especially if you’re from here, you know that.”
When it comes time for their annual physicals, parks employees work in teams to capture the birds using boats and large nets. Parks supervisor Steve Williams has helped round up the swans for the last 20 years.
“I mean, they are a city icon. They are. And we take very good care of them,” Williams said.
City workers will return the swans to Lake Morton after their checkup on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.