By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Prickles, the trumpeter swan rescued from the Polly Ann Trail in Addison Township last November, has a new a partner and a new name at the Detroit Zoo, in Royal Oak.
She has been paired with the zoo’s male swan, cleverly named Ron Swanson. Naturally, the zoo renamed Prickles to Leslie Knope, continuing the reference to the TV show Parks and Recreation.
Shelby Township resident Mike Kent discovered the young swan on the trail last year, with Angel Wing, a condition which inhibits its ability fly. He brought it to the attention of the Polly Ann Trail Management Council and the Howell Nature Center, Michigan’s largest wildlife rehabilitation clinic.
Leslie spent a few months at the Howell Nature Center before transferring to the Detroit Zoo this past January.
The zoo remains closed at least until the end of May, when stay-at-home restrictions lift. Zookeepers are still looking after the animals.
Leslie and Ron made a virtual appearance in a video on zoo’s social media pages April 20, when Leslie’s new name was announced. The avian couple live in the zoo’s Island Lake near the National Amphibian Conservation Center.
The zoo determined Leslie’s Angel Wing was caused by diet, not genetics.
“You’ll notice her feathers don’t sit as tightly against her body,” pointed out Sandy Ling, an Education Specialist for the Detroit Zoological Society, in a May 6 Facebook Live video. “The last joint in her wing turns out and makes it impossible for her to fly.”
Ling explained, “Angel Wing is caused when waterfowl such as swans, ducks, and Canada goose eat improper foods such as bread when they’re young. Birds grow quickly when they’re young, and bread doesn’t have the proper nutrients that is needed for a young bird to grow.”
She reminded viewers that “wild waterfowl like swans are experts at finding their own food and if we feed them, we can cause them harm.”
An informational sign about Leslie and a warning about feeding waterfowl is in the works for the Polly Ann Trail, near the pond where Leslie was found, according to Trail Manager Linda Moran.
Leslie was born to a pair of swans who return to this area annually. Moran recently spotted the mom and dad back at the pond just east of Lake George Rd. in Addison.
Trumpeter swans are currently on Michigan’s threatened species list, so they are legally protected.
By James Hanlon