Those walking around Lake Morton will see a few new additions to the landscape starting today. City workers have installed swan feed dispensers to help promote a healthier diet for Lakeland’s swan population. The swan feed dispensers will be coin operated, and the bubblegum-type machines will vend veterinarian approved swan feed. One will be installed on the north side of the lake in front of the Chamber of Commerce and the other will be installed on the south side of the lake near Success Avenue.
Dr. Patricia Mattson, who donates her time as Lakeland’s official swan veterinarian, recently shared her report on Lake Morton’s swans after their last annual physical.
“The swans are consuming too much white bread and the heavy gluten diet with very little nutritional value is taking a toll on Lakeland’s swan population,” she said. “Many of the swans have a calcium deficiency because they feast on bleached white bread.”
Bob Donahay, Director of Parks & Recreation says the Lake Morton swans are a community icon and families have fed them leftover bread for decades. He hopes the swan feeders will help educate visitors so they will know there is a better alternative than white bread. He hopes families will use the swan feed because it is specially formulated to include much-needed nutrients that will help the swans stay healthy.
Members from the Parks & Recreation Department who take care of the swans recently visited Lowry Park Zoo to see what type of dispensers they use to distribute animal food, and similar types of vending machines were purchased for Lake Morton. Proceeds from the feeders will be used to offset the annual cost for swan food, healthcare and upkeep.
It costs about $10,000 a year to feed Lakeland’s domestic swans. Lakeland’s flock was started when Queen Elizabeth of England donated a pair swans that were released on Lake Morton on Feb. 9, 1957.