The swan, known to many harbor-area residents for his fearlessness
while cruising around local waters, was plucked from the harbor near the
Fun Zone late Tuesday morning looking like he was not long for this
"Our observation was that Rupert was definitely dying when we found
him," said Sgt. Gary Smith of the Orange County Sheriff's Department
The bird was covered with fuel, which Smith said did not appear to
have originated from a major spill.
Once at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, he was washed off and
fed a liquid charcoal solution to soak up some of the fuel he had
Swimming through fuel is dangerous for birds, said center director
Gary Gorman, because the petroleum can burn their skin and digestive
systems, and destroy the waterproofing on their feathers.
"The ingestion of the [petroleum] product can be fatal," Gorman noted.
"Hopefully, we got him quick enough to forestall that."
The swan is listed in fair condition and may recuperate in about a
week, Gorman said.
Only a few weeks ago, the Huntington Beach center nearly closed
because of funding difficulties. A swell of donations kept the facility
open, which has turned out to be fortunate for Rupert the swan.
This is the second time in recent months that Newport's celebrity bird
has had the bad fortune of swimming into fouled waters.
At the end of May, a one-gallon diesel spill injured Rupert and
several other birds. In April, more spills sent familiar birds --
including the swan known as Sir Swany, but not Rupert -- to the
Huntington Beach care facility.