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Doane's Uncommon Wildlife

Many things make Doane unique, including some unusual campus residents: swans. Over the last 10 years, Doane has had three different pairs of swans on campus, living on both Doane Lake and Miller Pond. Currently, there are two swans living on Doane Lake. (Swans mate for life so Doane always has at least two swans.)

"I was really impressed when I visited Doane and saw the swans,” Hannah Bauer ’15 said, “I couldn't imagine another campus having animals living on it and roaming freely." Doane’s 300-acre campus of rolling hills, natural beauty and ponds provide a wonderful home for the swans, who in return, give the college a special touch.

“They definitely bring an aesthetic element to campus that is not seen very often,” said Brian Flesner, assistant director of facility operations. Flesner said the swans, who are the largest of the waterfowls and have over 25,000 feathers on their bodies, require very little upkeep, being fairly self sufficient during spring, summer and fall. “They are on the water doing their thing and we feed them during the week,” Flesner said. Their daily diet includes a grain and poultry mix. The swans usually get an abundance of bread crumbs and lettuce from community members as well, Flesner said. In the winter, though, they are housed by the Martin Maintenance Building and get regular feedings.

Students, like Hannah, have taken to the animals, but have learned a thing or two about how to interact with them. "The swans are intimidating, but they are really beautiful to look at. Not to touch,” Hannah laughed. “Freshmen, keep your distance."

Good advice considering swans are highly intelligent and remember who has been kind to them or not. Even though you shouldn’t approach the swans, just like any other “wild” animal, they have become a part of the Doane family and the college wouldn’t be the same without them.

"They give students a lesson about the beauty of nature every day,” Hannah said.