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New swan soon to rule the roost at Palace of Fine Arts

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Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
November 9, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — A new male swan at the Palace of Fine Arts may be getting picked on right now by the three female swans he lives with, but caretakers expect him to be ruling the roost within a short amount of time.

The Palace of Fine Arts’ male swan, named Wednesday, mysteriously vanished on Christmas Day last year, and police have not yet solved the swan-napping — they never developed any solid leads, nor did they determine whether the thief was human or animal, according to San Francisco Police spokeswoman Sgt. Lyn Tomioka.

Hagerty called the SFPD on Dec. 25 when she went to the lake for the swans’ afternoon feeding and found Wednesday gone, the female swans agitated and a pile of downy white feathers left behind.

“Their wings were clipped, so flying away was not a possibility,” said Tomioka. “Police inspected the scene, but we were unable to determine if the swan was stolen.” No suspects were found.

There are an unknown number of coyotes living in the Presidio that have occasionally been spotted in and around the Palace of Fine Arts, according to Deb Campbell, a spokeswoman for Animal Care and Control.

Hagerty maintains that a human took the swan, because an attack by a coyote or dog would have left plenty of evidence behind.
“I’ve been on the wrong end of a swan. When they get hurt, they bleed like you wouldn’t believe,” Hagerty said.

Wednesday’s disappearance left the lake’s three female swans — 18-year-old Friday and her 12-year-old daughter Blanche and 3-year-old daughter Monday — without a guardian, according to swan caretaker Gayle Hagerty.

Hagerty and fellow caretaker Judy Wilkes pooled their money and bought a new 1-year-old male swan in October, naming him Maybeck, after Palace of Fine Arts architect Bernard Maybeck.

“He’s one of the most magnificent swans I have ever seen,” Hagerty said. “At first he was shy. He fainted when we first put him in the lake. But he’ll be king of the land in another six months.”

For now, Maybeck is taking a pecking from the ladies, who chase him around the lake mercilessly. But as the yearling grows, he’ll take over as head of the roost, and within two years he’ll be able to fertilize eggs and rejuvenate the flock, Hagerty said.

This story originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

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Written by Beth Winegarner

November 9, 2008 at 11:18 PM

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