A beloved swan named Blanche that was a mainstay at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts for decades has died at the age of 28.
Blanche retired in July 2022 after living her entire life at the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts, according to a news release from the city’s Recreation and Park Department. She died last Thursday.
She was moved to a country estate in Sonoma County amid concerns about avian flu and lead in the soil around the lagoon. The move was intended to be temporary, but longtime volunteer caretaker Gale Hagerty said in the statement that Blanche thrived at the home, where she was reunited with her son Stanley.
“She was in a beautiful place where she was so happy and she ruled the roost,” said Hagerty.
Blanche was a mute swan, a type of swan that is not actually mute but has a quieter voice than other swan species, according to the Audubon Society. Mute swans live for an average of seven years in the wild but can live up to 30 years in captivity.
The species has a reputation for being aggressive, but Blanche was known for being affectionate toward visitors and would often pose for them.
“She was amazing. She loved people. She loved children. She thought anyone near the edge of the water was there to see her. People were mesmerized by how social she was,” Hagerty said.
Blanche was introduced to her mate, Blue Boy, in 2011. He died in 2017, leaving Blanche as the only swan left at the lagoon until her retirement.
“Blanche inspired animal lovers and romantics at the Palace of Fine Arts for nearly three decades,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department general manager Phil Ginsburg. “Her beauty and grace rivaled that of the Palace itself, but it was her extraordinary personality that won over our visitors. She was a perfect ambassador.”