Campaign hatched to keep royal swans in Ottawa

Ottawa’s royal swans may not have to fly the coop after all.


Clarence Dungey, of the campaign Save Ottawa’s Swans, is meeting with municipal staff today to review council’s decision to dump Ottawa’s royal swans, in hopes of finding a way to keep them.


Council voted to get rid of the swans — descendants of six birds that Queen Elizabeth II gave Ottawa to mark Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967 — because the city could not afford the estimated $430,000 needed to build a new facility to properly house them.


But Dungey said he has managed to secure “considerable support from the general public” and plans are in the works to raise money for the SOS campaign.

He envisions a shelter — like the one the city of Stratford uses to house its swans — built near or on the Experimental Farm that is open year-round.

“There is a museum on the farm and people go in there to see the cows. It could work with the swans just the same,” said Dungey.

Keeping the swans would likely cost close to the $20,000 annually that Stratford pays for upkeep of 32 swans, said Stratford Parks and Forestry Manager, Quin Mallott.

The royal swans’ digs there are less opulent than the $430,000 shelter that was proposed in Ottawa, but the birds are kept in a fenced area behind the parks office, where the public can visit.

Dungey said city staff might visit Stratford’s shelter to see how it operates. And while Stratford is happy to share its expertise, it won’t adopt Ottawa’s swans.

“We would not want anymore swans,” said Mallott. “We have 32 now, so we’re maxed out.”

Swans wronged?

  • Housing the swans has been a controversial subject since a coalition of animal-rights advocates took issue with the birds’ winter shelter, dubbing it “Swantanamo Bay” and charging that the pens were too cramped.