Last swan moved from Palace of Fine Arts


All it took was a bit of bread to get Blanche out of the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Mute swans like Blanche were part of the original sketches when the Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Bernard Maybeck for the Pan Pacific Exposition in 1915. Now there are no swans at all.

One disappeared this spring; another was killed earlier this month. Officials say someone deliberately broke its neck, leaving Blanche alone and vulnerable.

So Wednesday Blanche was taken to the San Francisco Zoo.

"She'll be stressed, quite stressed; she was born there," swan caretaker Judy Whilt said.

Whilt and Gayle Hagerty have watched over the swans for nearly two decades. They were initially opposed to the relocation plan, but are satisfied it is only temporary.

"I'm confident she'll be cared for well there, particularly with all the publicity," Whilt said.

Blanche is expected to stay here at the zoo until January. She will have a through medical checkup and possibly have a microchip implanted.

By then a $22 million renovation will be complete at the palace. But now there could be additional modifications.

"To ensure that once Blanche comes back to the lagoon, some safety features and environment and habitat features happen before she returns," San Francisco Animal Care and Control spokesperson Lt. Le-Ellis Brown said.

There is a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the swan killer. Those wishing to contribute to the reward fund can learn more by calling (415) 554-9413.

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