UPDATE: Natasha the swan returned to University

2/2/2007 8:00:00 AM

UPDATE Feb.2: Natasha has been returned to the University this morning by a couple in Sun Valley who took her from the Walgreen's parking lot last Sunday.

UPDATE Jan. 30: The black Australian swan, Natasha, who lives on Manzanita Lake, has been reported missing over the weekend, according to Tom Lean, assistant director of facilities operations. The swan was last seen near Walgreens on Virginia St. late Sunday afternoon. Facilities operations workers are searching for the swan on and around the University campus. If anyone has any information or has spotted the swan, please contact Buildings and Grounds at 784-8020.

While students, faculty and staff have been able to keep warm in the extreme cold that has invaded Reno this month, the swans on campus have had to be relocated at least once during winter break to a facility on Valley Road.

White mute swans have been residents of Manzanita Lake since at least the 1930s. However, when the water content of the lake begins to decrease because of the freezing, the three swans are moved to the temporary facility about a half mile southeast of campus. There, the swans are provided with comfortable accommodations, according to Bill Premo, facility operations supervisor.

"They have pens, they have a little kiddy pool with tank heaters," Premo said.

The swans remain at the farm on Valley Road until it becomes warmer and the living conditions on Manzanita Lake improve. Although the cold is not harmful for the swans, the ice formed by the below-freezing temperatures might provide hazards to them.

"They have trouble walking on ice," Premo said. "When we foresee problems, we move them."

Natasha, a female, has been on campus for nearly two years, after being donated to the University. Olivia, a white mute swan, has been on campus for 11 years, the longest of all the swans currently residing on Manzanita Lake, Premo said. Zeus, the male swan, is Olivia's mate and arrived on campus about two years ago, according to Premo. The most recent addition to the swan family is an unnamed cygnet, an offspring of Zeus and Olivia. University officials are seeking a home for the 9-month-old cygnet.

"It might be relocated because we don't want it to inbreed," Premo said.

The swans might not have to be moved to the farm for the rest of the season. Despite the unusual single digit temperatures in the first weeks of the year, the upcoming months should bring warmer weather, said Jeff Underwood, Nevada state climatologist and assistant professor of geography.

"We should get back to normal," Underwood says. "The long term forecast should put us back in the 20s and higher digits."

The average low temperature for December and January was around 15 degrees, said Underwood. The bitter cold temperatures may be uncomfortable, but Underwood said that the climate is normal for the season and region.

"We live in an extreme environment," Underwood says.  "Because of where we are, everything we get comes in big, extreme time events. Even the temperatures are crazy." 


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