Time for a check-up: Annual Lakeland swan roundup enters 39th year

Feathers flew in Lakeland Tuesday morning as city officials rounded up all of the swans on Lake Morton for a yearly veterinary check-up. Crews in boats crisscrossed in pursuit, while the swans tried to dash and dart away.

The young ones can give the crews quite a run for their money. The boats raced after the birds -- hitting speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

The senior swans are another story.

“Usually your older ones, they just give up,” Steven Williams, who drives one of the boats, told FOX 13.

The swans were placed inside large holding pens located on the south end of Lake Morton. Wednesday, veterinarians from My Pet’s Animal Hospital, which now provides care for the swans, will give each one a full exam.

“They can get arthritis. They can get gout,” explained Dr. Price Dickson. “They can get eye problems and various other things that can happen when you have a large group of animals.”

Lakeland suspects it has about 70 swans of different kinds living on Lake Morton. City officials will know for sure by the end of the roundup.

This year, six swans were run over by motorists. A rare hand-raised baby black-necked swan mysteriously disappeared within 24 hours of it being released on the lake.

Lakeland is known to be the home of the beautiful swans, an iconic symbol within the city. The roundups first started in 1980, but they’ve been around long before that. In 1957, the first breeding pair were donated by queen Elizabeth. As the flock grew, city officials decided to hold an annual health check-up. 

It's been a tradition ever since.