Swan returned to Palace eight weeks after sibling killed 

Blanche is back and she’s brought some friends to enjoy the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts with her.

The 13-year-old white mute swan — which was removed from her home in November for protection after her sister Monday was killed by vandals — was returned quietly Sunday, according to her caregivers.

“It’s been so good to see them on the water,” said Gayle Hagerty, one of Blanche’s caretakers “It just felt so lonely without them; it felt very incomplete.”

Hagerty, along with her colleague Judy Whilt, found Blanche her new companions: brother and sister white mute swans Belly and Blue Boy.

Those birds were flown in from New York six weeks ago and housed at Jack Long’s 1-acre exotic-bird sanctuary in Point Reyes Station. Blanche joined the pair just before Christmas so they could all become acquainted.

Long, an exotic bird and waterfowl breeder, said swans like Blanche are known to be companion animals. In November, Blanche became the last remaining swan in the lagoon after unknown assailants killed Monday by snapping her neck.

“[Blanche] could’ve stayed in the lagoon,” he said, “but she would’ve gotten pretty lonely.”

Swans had been incorporated into the design of the Palace of Fine Arts, which was built in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

According to Hagerty, Blanche seemed pleased to be home.

“She’s all wiggles. She was doing some dives in to the water and flapping wings,” Hagerty said. “Blanche is so happy to be back.”

Her companions, however, are taking a little longer to adjust.

“It’s to be expected,” Hagerty said. “They’ve had a lot of handling in the last six weeks.”

To prepare for the return and prevent future disturbance of the animals, the Recreation and Park Department, which oversees the Palace of Fine Arts, is reviewing security measures including surveillance, according to Hagerty.

A security guard has already been stationed at the lagoon, Hagerty said.


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