Five floating dead black swans join China’s animal apocalypse

At the north-eastern corner of Anhui University’s old campus in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, there’s a scenic pond that’s inhabited by a bevy of black swans. The swans have been there for more than a decade already, and were – as the front page of local newspaper Star News (市场新报) laments today – an object of fondness for locals.

The black swans at Anhui University in happier times

Yet early this morning, five of these black and beautiful swans were found floating lifeless on the surface of the pond. The latest instance of floating dead animals in China – first pigs, then ducks, and now black swans – these mere five black swans became an object of heated discussion on the Internet right after the announcement was made.

How did they die? Was it a natural disaster or another man-made one? As Star News tells us today, upon hearing of the news yesterday it immediately sent a journalist to the scene to find out exactly what happened. What he found was just one more filthy pond filled with oily water and garbage.

The swans are something to behold. The picture above is taken from a photo album that was uploaded to the website 万家热线, or “Ten Thousand Hotline” (a news and information portal focused on Anhui province), in 2011. Now clouded with a sense of sadness, the album shows the then 13 black swans as they appeared last winter. There are now eight swans left.

The journalist was not impressed by the scene he found the pond. The water had an oily quality to it, and quite a lot of garbage could be seen on the surface. From what he could ascertain from locals, many people often used the pond to rinse cloths, mops, mats and other items containing various chemicals.

The journalist could not see the dead swans anymore, because, as he was informed, they have been preserved and will be studied carefully to determine the cause of death. After this their remains will be used as specimens for academic research.

With the cause of death as yet entirely unknown, the Star News today offers four possible causes of death in a desperate attempt to establish whether it was a natural occurrence or not:

  1. Killed by other animals: According to a witness interviewed by the journalist, on Sunday afternoon a large dog was seen chasing and biting the swans
  2. Poisoned by garbage: Just ten days ago a black swan was born in the pond, and this caused an increase in the number of visitors. Many of these were seen to throw peels, leaves and other things into the pool, and one of these items may have poisoned the swans
  3. Water pollution: In the last few years, the quality of the water in the pond worsened considerably. Incredibly, sewage was pumped into the pond sometime last year, leading to an outbreak of blue-green algae 
  4. Disease or some other natural cause

So what caused these five black swans to go the same way as thousands of pigs and ducks, all discarded into a watery grave? Speaking to the people responsible for the maintenance of the area, the journalist was told that new measures are now to be implemented at the pond, including strengthening patrols by local security, improving the quality of the water, and removing the garbage. But alas, it’s too late for the five black swans, who were preyed on by predators, bombarded with garbage, and left floating lifeless like just some worthless pig. 


Links and sources
Star News (市场新报): 天鹅之死
Star News app on iTunes 徜徉在午后温暖阳光里的安大天鹅池

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