A mute swan that died recently at Veterans Memorial Lake apparently died of health problems related to old age, according to Great Bend-Brit Spaugh Zoo Director Scott Gregory.
A necropsy performed at Kansas State University after the bird died last month confirmed Gregory’s early suspicions to some degree, he said.
"The swan that passed away died of one of two problems. The first problem found was mineralization of the heart, and the second problem was an impacted gizzard.
"The heart problem probably comes from being an older swan, and the impacted gizzard just had too much sand inside. The sand in a gizzard is normal and is used to help crush up food the bird swallows. This gizzard had A LOT of sand. Either way nothing was contagious, and there were no diseases present. Both of these symptoms were completely unavoidable and not able to be detected. Nothing else out of the ordinary was found.
"Basically, it was an old bird."
The bird was one of six mute swans purchased last November by the City of Great Bend, in hopes they will become territorial and drive geese away from the lake. The geese have been a contributing factor in the recurring toxic blue-green algae problem at Vets Lake, city officials learned. The swans cost the city $50 each, along with the cost of bringing them to Great Bend. Gregory found the birds at an Omaha, Neb., zoo.