Sunday, September 19, 2010

'Hannibal' swan 'kills 15 other birds'

A swan dubbed Hannibal is to have blood tests to find the reason for its aggression after it killed 15 other swans in just a few months in a quiet rural pond. The killer swan attacks other birds by beating them with his beak, wings and feet. Conservationists have even reported seeing him hold the head of rivals underwater until they drown in the pond in the grounds of the historic Pembroke Castle, West Wales.

Now wildlife workers are to carry out a series of tests on “Hannibal” after parents expressed concern over the psychological effect it may have on their children if they witness an attack. Maria Evans, an animal worker at Pembroke Castle’s pond, said: “I’ve never come across such an aggressive bird. He is an absolutely horrible swan and people really don’t like him. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been to pick up dead and injured swans.”

Ruth Harrison, 25, said: ““I’ve seen Hannibal attacking other swans and it is quite unpleasant. Afterwards, he swims around the pond with his wings up, looking so proud of what he has done. And if his victims are injured on the bank, he just won’t let them back in the water.” Hannibal’s most recent victim was being treated yesterday at an animal rescue centre after being saved by a local vet. The swan, called Trevor, suffered terrible injuries to his feet in the attack by Hannibal. Hannibal carried out its first attack in February.

Hannibal and his family will be removed from the pond so tests can be carries out as workers for clues to explain his violent behaviour. Ms Evans said: “The water in the pond is very brackish, salty and not particularly clean, and pollution and lack of nutrients can both be responsible for nasty behaviour in swans. Once we have the results of the tests, we can decide Hannibal’s future. But I know that people wouldn’t be sorry to see him go.”

There's a news video here.

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