Meet the Swans: Precious/Marlika | Papa/Mama | Boy | Lady | Boulika | Tristan | Brothers


On this page: 3 Names! | Badly Injured | The Long Recovery | Hospital Visits | Success


Try the 20-Question Quiz about Boulika


Boulika is the oldest swan at Lost Lagoon; he was born around 1981.


This is a picture of Boulika in 1992: A strong and domineering swan.


Why 'Boulika'? At approximately 25 years of age (in October 2005), Boulika is the oldest Lost Lagoon swan. He was named Boulika by the Swan Lady who has known him since 1989. On first visiting Lost Lagoon, she was told that this swan was called "Bull" because of the way he liked to ‘charge.’ Soon, because of her Croatian background, the Swan Lady started calling him Boulika.


Marcel? Boulika also picked up two nicknames along the way: "Marcel" by his vet, after Marcel Marceau the French mime, because, like a mime – he’s mute.


Old Crooked Neck: And he’s called "Crooked Neck" by others including Ziggy and his friend Stephen because, as you might guess, his neck is crooked. It’s not known how his neck was injured (or maybe it was only arthritis), but it made him easy to recognize.


His mate taken away: As with other swans that usually mate for life, Boulika and his longtime companion spent years happily together on the Lagoon, season after season. When his mate was moved to another location, it was sad to see Boulika drifting aimlessly in the water,


A very gentle and sensitive creature: Being so old, and having gone through so many things in his life, he has become the equivalent of a soulful old cat or dog. He responds immediately to people's kindness. One of his friends, Stephen, was known to sit with the swan for hours on the shore of the Lagoon, talking to him gently. Stephen mentioned one of those unique moments in life when, on a nice summer evening, he was sitting on the shore with 3 swans, including Boulika, all in a circle. They were all calm and aware of each other's gentle presence. Stephen recalls that for a while he felt one with the swans; they were all blending in the same awareness of that quiet summer night, savoring friendship between beings of different species.


Taking care of The Baby: When The Baby was chased away by her parents in December of 2003, Old Boulika adopted her. The Baby's friends around the Lagoon were so relieved to see that she was not alone after the painful and highly perplexing couple of weeks that the separation from her parents had lasted! It was cute to see Old Crooked Neck taking care of the still-brown-feathered young swan. They ate and swam together; however the friendship was not to last long...


A close call: In the middle of January 2004, Boulika was attacked by a dog or a coyote on the shore of the Lagoon and left in very bad shape. He was saved by concerned visitors who got him help and by the extraordinary care of his vet and her team who looked after him for more than six months. The attack had severed many muscles on his back so that he was not able to walk any more. He also had 2 sets of fang holes on his neck.


At the bird hospital: The competent and loving care that Boulika received at the bird hospital allowed him to recover fully from the attack. It was a slow process, though: During the first couple of months, he was hardly able to stand at all on his legs. Even after 3 or 4 months, he would often fall on his chest while walking.


He became a favorite at the bird hospital, almost becoming a house pet, following the staff from the room where he swam in a tub, to the front office where he sat in the sun, to be admired by the surprised clients ("Huh? Is this a swan?"), to the balcony at the back of the building where he had another bath tub to swim and breathe fresh air, then back to his "bedroom" where a clean comforter on the floor awaiting him so that he could rest in comfort. The staff of the hospital did a "swan laundry" every day since swans, intelligent though they be, are not “into” litter-boxes!


A customized harness: The staff of the hospital built a special harness for Boulika, with a handle on top, that allowed them to keep him on his feet for a few minutes during the first weeks following his surgery, when he was too weak to walk on his own, and afterwards to guide him and support him when he was re-learning how to walk.


Trips to the swimming pool: The harness, attached to a light leash, also allowed them to bring him to a swimming pool (some 20-25 miles from the bird hospital) and let him swim while still being able to ease him back to the edge of the pool when it was time to return to the hospital. Being able to swim in a large and deep pool did wonders to his ego, said his doctor.


Back at the hospital, he'd sit beside the desk just like a dog or a cat, every evening while the vet did her admin work.


This hospital treats birds so well that this webmaster caught herself envying the patients on a couple of occasions when visiting.


Another close friend: The Swan Lady visited him regularly during his stay at the hospital, bringing fresh lettuce and his favorite treats. She’d sit in the front office, talking to him while he would shake his tail and snout to show his pleasure.


When his nap time came, a member of the staff would lead him back to his bedroom, the old guy going slowly, step by step. It was always a touching moment to see the Swan Lady watching Boulika leave, like a loving grandma who sees a child going back to his hospital bed after the visiting time is over.


"A success story": As of October 2005, Boulika is doing very well -- "a real success story" says his proud doctor.


  Mute Swans Quiz

20-Question Quiz about Boulika

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Photos courtesy of Fiona Sinclair


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