Posted on June 24, 2010

White Swans Imposing Naval Blockade on Black-Feathered Cousins in Ramat Gan

Noah Kosharek, Haaretz, June 23, 2010

In recent weeks, a pair of white European swans at Ramat Gan’s Safari Park have been refusing to let the black Australian swans enter the safari’s pond and swim there.

The “blockade” launched by the white swans has been particularly hard on the black swans as the mercury climbed over the past few days.

Safari workers note that the move began a few weeks ago when the swans’ caretakers noticed that a pair of white swans was not allowing a pair of black swans to take a dip in the pond, which is their usual wont. The two types of swans, Safari worker explained, have until now lived side by side for many years without any particular problems.

At first, the workers thought this was a temporary measure that would end in a day or two. The caretakers thought it was aggressiveness related to the courting season of the white swans. But the white swans have not shown any signs of courtship. They have not started building nests and have not acted like swans in the midst of mating season. Still the blockade has continued.

Will the High Court step in?

Since then, Safari workers note, each morning the male and female white swans can be seen patrolling back and forth near the entrance to the pond and each time a black swan tries to find relief from the heat in the cool pond waters, they are immediately chased away.

“They have left the black swans a very small swath of land,” said the head of the Safari’s avian department, Dr. Gilad Goldstein. In order to ease the situation for the black swans, the workers distribute food for them in several spots near the pond and also in some more distant spots in order to get the white swans to move a little away from the pond and open the entrance to the water and allow the black swans to bathe a bit.

“If this doesn’t stop soon,” Goldstein said, “we’ll have to find a solution for the black swans in order to restore tranquility to their lives. In the meantime we are trying all sorts of intermediary solutions to open the water channels to them. It’s funny to say, but the caretakers are using peace activists to deal with this.”

The black swan is a special kind of swan with black feathers discovered in Australia in the 18th century. Since the existence of a non-white swan was thought impossible before then, the term “black swan” became a synonym for an event that happens despite slim odds.