Swans hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo to be released in wild

But these cygnets, or baby chick swans, will not live out their lives at the zoo. Within one year, they will be flying in the wild.

The two cygnets hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo a month ago. So far, their lives in the zoo's swan lake have been just ducky. They are thriving and that's good news because a century ago the trumpeter swan in the Midwest almost disappeared.

"They used to be endangered," said Dr. Megan Ross, general curator at Lincoln Park Zoo. "They were almost decimated at the beginning of the 1900s through loss of habitat and hunting."

Lincoln Park Zoo opened in 1868. The first two animals were two swans. Their long tradition at the zoo will reach a milestone this fall when the swans will become part of a program involving the Brookfield Zoo and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to repopulate the Midwest with trumpeter swans.

"We send out cygnets that are hatched each year in the fall to go to (a wetland in) Iowa (where) they will choose their own mate over the winter," said Dr. Ross. "In the spring they will go and be released in the wetland area."

Lincoln Park Zoo has sent 33 young swans back to the wild. No one knows how many cygnets those birds have produced.

Ultimately, the swans will weigh up to 26 pounds and have wing spans up to 10 feet. They are the largest of native North American birds, and now there are more and more of them.

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