Video/Gallery: Oil spill swans released into River Orwell in Ipswich

JUST one week after being rescued from an oil spill in the River Orwell, 11 swans, including three cygnet siblings, are again swimming pretty.

Yesterday RSPCA officials, who rescued the swans from an oil slick near the Orwell Bridge in Ipswich, released the rehabilitated swans back into the river.

“If that doesn’t put a smile on your face I don’t know what would,

“They’re back where they should be,” said RSPCA Inspector Jason Finch.

With the help of RSPCA animal inspection officer Kate Cornforth, and some specially designed swan carry bags, Mr Finch moved the eight adult swans from the rescue van onto the mud flats under the Orwell Bridge.

Waiting in a cage close by were the three tweeting cygnets.

“Sadly the smallest cygnet of the four was overcome with toxins and died, so there are only three left, but the rest of the adults are doing brilliantly,” Mr Finch said.

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“They have been washed twice and had their stomachs cleaned with a charcoal solution to rid them of any oil,” Mr Finch said.

Around 2.30pm the creatures were released back into the wild.

“To avoid a fight we release them in groups,

“The family of five will be first, to give the cygnets time to reach the water and not be attacked,” he said.

The cygnets negotiated their way through the mud back to the river, followed closely by their mother and father, and then the remaining six adults were pulled from their bags and waddled away to the water.

Mr Finch added how lucky it was the birds were found before they had ingested too much oil.

“When they clean their feathers with their beak they eat the oil which then releases toxins into their system and they can’t fly,” he said.

The oil spill, which was reported to the Associated British Ports on Sunday 8th July, is still being investigated by the Environment Agency.