Hampstead Heath swan dubbed ‘The Wingless Angel’ has to have amputation

PUBLISHED: 18:35 14 February 2013 | UPDATED: 18:35 14 February 2013

Rescue mission, the swan and Laurent Howes PIC: Ron Vester

Rescue mission, the swan and Laurent Howes PIC: Ron Vester


A rescue team spent three hours canoeing on Hampstead Heath ponds to save the life of a badly injured swan whose wing has now been amputated.

The swan with his dislocated wing PIC: Ron VesterThe swan with his dislocated wing PIC: Ron Vester

The swan, dubbed “The Wingless Angel”, was hurt last week when it crashed into a fence and was discovered shivering with its dislocated left limb trailing behind it in the mixed bathing ponds.

Ron Vester, a regular visitor to the Heath, who spotted the male swan in distress, said:

“I was walking on the Heath and I spotted a pair of swans and I whistled and called them over because they respond to that respond to that, but only the female came.

“The male swan just hugged the embankment and didn’t move.”

Laurent Howes , the swan and Steve Knight of Swan Sanctuary PIC: Ron VesterLaurent Howes , the swan and Steve Knight of Swan Sanctuary PIC: Ron Vester

“When we finally managed to pull him out of the water we saw that he had a ghastly wound.”

The bird was rushed to a swan sanctuary near Heathrow Airport in a special blue ambulance with space for four cages and its wing was amputated within the hour.

“At that point, there was no hope,” said Ron Vester. “The swan was completely subdued. He had submitted.”

“Just before the operation they put him in a bed of hay with his mate and they were sitting there together – it was kind of heavy to watch,” said Mr Vester.

“The swan won’t be returning to the Heath because he won’t be able to fly and with the dogs, he’ll be too high risk.”

“Somewhere, somehow, he will be moved to a peaceful, private pond.”

He added: “His mate will be moved with him but she may reject him - there’s no knowing.”

In just two months, this year’s population of Heath swans has halved to four – following disappearances and the recent death of another male swan due to an eye infection.

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