A swan sailed serenely down a river with her devoted mate yesterday – just days after surviving a brush with death at the hands of a crossbow thug.
The female swan was rescued from the River Lyne in Northumberland last week after being spotted with a crossbow bolt embedded in her neck.
She was brought to safety by specialist water rescue firefighters and taken to a local vets, where she was put on a drip following an operation to remove the bolt.
Yesterday the young adult bird was returned to the river by the RSPCA after amazingly suffering no lasting effects from the attack.
Watched by some of the Pegswood Green Watch firefighters who saved her, she went back into the water to be met by her pining partner.
They had been apart for just over a week and it was not known whether the male bird would still be waiting for her.
He was though, and together they happily moved off down the river, leaving rescuers moist-eyed at the reunion.
The shooting of the swan was branded “despicable” by the RSPCA, which is appealing for help from the public to track down the person responsible.
The bolt went right through the soft tissue of her neck, but missed the oesophagus, windpipe and spine.
The injured bird was spotted by a passer-by and taken to the Robson and Prescott veterinary practice in Morpeth after being rescued.
She was returned to the river by RSPCA Inspector Trevor Walker.
He said: “We never really expected things to come together as well as they have and it has been fantastic to reunite the swan with her mate.
“This is a fulfilling job anyway, but it was a great day.
“We asked the firefighters from Green Watch at Pegswood to come along because they were utterly brilliant last week. The vet has done a great job too.
“We now need to get information from the public about whoever shot this swan.
“We need to find this guy and get him sorted out through the courts. If he is willing to do something like this, there is no telling what else he might do.”
Vet Sam Prescott added: “For a wild animal to be shot with a crossbow is quire rare and it’s something that can only be done with malicious intent.
“What happened to this swan was absolutely revolting.
“A swan on an isolated waterway cannot be causing anyone a problem and they are beautiful creatures to look at.
“The crossbow bolt went through her neck but pushed all of the vulnerable structures apart. It’s an incredibly luck bird.
“I’m very confident that she will be absolutely fine. She has made a full recovery and the wound has healed better than we could have hoped.”
Anyone with information about the shooting should call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 and ask to leave a message for Inspector Walker.