A swan was killed this weekend in an act of bizarre, senseless violence early Saturday morning at the Palace of Fine Arts. Volunteer caretakers found the 5-year-old bird, named Monday, floating in the lagoon on Saturday morning with a broken neck.
While there is not much information to go on, some suggest that it appears to be the aftermath of a Marina party gone wild. Caretaker, Gayle Haggerty found empty beer cans scattered among feathers. According to Judy Whilt, the other caretaker, there was a “huge beer party” on the Baker Street side of the lagoon at the time many think the swan was killed.
San Francisco Animal Care and Control are investigating the incident and believe it occurred sometime between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Saturday. “This is clearly just a random act of horrific violence,” said Captain Vicky Guldbech who thinks it might have been part of “a horrible prank or kids joking around”.
In the past 25 years, there have been three swan killings of a similar nature. As recent as six years ago there were 13 swans living at the lagoon but due to the expense of caring for them, most had to be given away. After this weekend’s death, Monday’s sister Blanche is the only swan left swimming in the lagoon. Swans are companion birds so the caretakers hope to bring in a male companion soon.
There is a glimpse of good news as Monday’s mother, Friday, who was stolen six months ago, may have been found. Animal Control found a swan in a San Francisco backyard around the time of the theft and although they didn’t contact the Palace of Fine Arts caretakers, they found a new home for it. Whilt told the Examiner, “If it’s happy where it is, we will leave it”.
A $500 reward has been offered by the caretakers for information leading to a conviction in the swan killing case. Hagerty expects the reward to grow as locals have expressed interest in donating funds.
The caretakers hope this incident will encourage a larger police presence at the Palace of Fine Arts at night when the area becomes pitch black. The struggle to prevent nighttime crime and vandalism in San Francisco’s beautiful, secluded open spaces goes beyond just the Palace of Fine Arts. This summer, Golden Gate Park experienced a string of strange vandalism such as mysteriously severed trees and rose gardens.
Add on the violent crimes like the two murders in the park this summer and the city started getting serious about preventative measures such as closing the park and adding more police presence at night.
If you have information about the swan killing case, please contact Animal Control at (415) 554-9400.