We’ve welcomed our two black swans back to their regular pond habitat along the bridge to our Lands of Change: Australia and Beyond area. While we’re happy the duo is back out, we’re sad to share that our 18-year-old male swan Ringo was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. We don’t believe Ringo’s lymphoma will be able to be cured, but we hope the move helps make him more comfortable for the rest of his time with us.
Ringo and his partner, 20-year-old female Tinker, had been living in a behind-the-scenes area of the Zoo since February 2022, when the initial cases of HPAI, or bird flu, were found among wild birds in our area. In an effort to keep our bird species safe, many were moved off habitat to protect them from the threat of this virus for a time. Although Ringo and Tinker did well in their behind-the-scenes habitat, it was decided Ringo’s quality of life would be better in his main habitat.
At the beginning of December, Ringo’s keepers noticed him having mobility challenges. “He was having difficulty supporting his body weight on his feet,” said Kristen Gagnon, the Area Supervisor of Lands of Change. A trip to the Zoo’s veterinary hospital revealed Ringo’s lymphoma diagnosis through blood testing.
According to Zoo veterinarian Dr. Kyle Donnelly, Ringo will be given pain medication to manage his symptoms. Once he is weaned off that medication, he will start steroids and chemotherapy. “The goal is to reduce the number of cancerous white blood cells circulating in his blood,” said Dr. Donnelly. “We will be checking on him frequently to monitor his response to this treatment as well as any potential side effects from the medication.”
All animal residents at our Zoo who are geriatric or experiencing health issues are given regular quality of life assessments. An animal care team looks at objective measures like the resident’s hygiene, mobility, appetite and more, to prevent future suffering.
With his wellbeing in mind, our animal care team recently met to discuss what measures we could set in place to increase Ringo’s quality of life. Because bird flu cases in our area appear to be trending downward, the decision was made to move him and his partner, Tinker, back to their main habitat so that he can access more water to swim in.
“Although HPAI cases have gone down, we will continue to remain vigilant as migration to our area is still taking place,” said Dr. Donnelly.
The swans’ temporary behind-the-scenes home included a built-in pool to encourage natural behaviors, along with a large straw bed, grass rugs and foam mats to keep the ground soft for their feet as well as exciting new enrichment items from keepers.
“Like with all of our bird species, the decision to move the swans back to their normal habitat was made with their overall welfare in mind,” said Kristen. “With Ringo’s medical condition, he has been spending extra time in the water, off of his feet. Moving the swans back to their habitat in Lands of Change will give Ringo extra room to swim.”
Ringo has called the Zoo home since 2004, just a year after Tinker arrived. Keepers describe Ringo as territorial of his space – although less so in his behind-the-scenes habitat.
On your next visit to the Zoo, you may be able to spot Ringo and Tinker swimming in their large habitat along the bridge to Lands of Change. We’re committed to keeping him and the rest of our animal residents safe and comfortable throughout their time living at our Zoo.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.