Our zoo

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Emmitt-1994? - 4/5/2008

It is with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat that I type this. Our male black swan was killed yesterday, presumably by a pack of coyotes. We theorize what happened is that the coyotes were pacing the outside of the fence area as the sun was coming up, and Emmitt went to protect his mate, Flo. He would have been trying to smack them with his powerful wings and trying to get a bite in with his beak and they were able to grab him. That's all I will say about that. His instincts were to protect his mate and babies at any cost and for ten plus years he did that to a tee.
We bought Emmitt and Flo number 1 over ten years ago. I named him Emmitt because when we went to pick him up we spent hours trying to catch him. He could move like Emmitt Smith! After we got him home it didn't take long for him to show us who was boss and to what extent he would protect his mate. I had to build a fence around the pond because it wasn't unusual to be awaken in the morning by him bititng at the sliding glass door on our bedroom.
As a father he sired about 8 cygnets a year for roughly 8 plus years which we sold for $200 each. He more than earned his keep here. I even remember the first cygnet they had. The egg was layed off the nest. We brought it to a friends house who incubated it and it hatched. We named her Cassie, but quickly found out the dificulties of raising a cygnet without the parents. We lost her only after a couple of months. The last 6 cygnets we had were lost this past month due to the hawks. This was the first time we ha ever lost any babies and what makes it even more sad is that we could have kept a couple to continue on with his legacy.
Emmitt was like Satan on steroids when it came to protecting his own. It is this trait that caused him his early demise, but it is why his mate will continue to survive. I should list list all the people who were attacked by him either while we were fishing or just visiting, but the list is long. The two most memorable and funniest ones were when my friend Robert and I were fishing and Emmitt came in for the attack. Robert didn't move fast enough and Emmitt grabbed him in family jewels area with his beak and wouldn't let go. Robert is a big man and to hear a big man scream like a girl as he trying to free hisself from the grasp of a 14 pound bird is..... well it's just damn funny as long as it's not you.
The other memorable attack came when my friend Bryan brought his boys over to fish. For a while it was going well as Emmitt stayed on the nest(he shared that duty with Flo) for nearly 2 hours. I guess at one point he was tired of sharing his pond so he set out for what he does best... run those two legged things out of his area. Well he went for Bryan's oldest son, who at one point looked like a professional fencer as he was using his fishing pole to keep Emmitt at a distance as he made his retreat. The retreat went to hell quickly when Byran's son( who was also a big kid) tripped and fell backwards. The familiar high pitched scream echoed again as I looked up and saw this swan all over this boy. I guess Emmitt went for the big ones first so the rest of the bystanders knew he wasn't mucking around! I could go on with those stories but I feel a couple would explain his sole purpose as far as he was concerned.
I don't know right now if we are going to get another male or not. Maybe another female so Flo can have a companion. It's too early to tell or make that decision. I just want a few days, as does Susan to reflect on the time we had with him and what he meant to us as he shared his life with us. If I could protect my own as fiercely as only he could I would consider that the lesson in life he taught me. I learn a lot from all of my animals... mostly patience, but his undivided ability to protect his own is something I'll remember about him unti lthe day I die.
Good bye Emmitt, I know you are with the first Flo under God's feet protecting all of his animals.