Ariel Cordova-Rojas was celebrating her 30th birthday with a trip to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on November 5 when she saw a swan that was not able to fly or walk. She took it upon herself to carry the 17-pound-swan to the Wild Bird Fund.
She used to work for the Wild Bird Fun, so she knew something was wrong when she began to get closer to the bird. Cordova-Rojas told the New York Daily News, “She didn’t move at all. I approached, and she stayed still. Swans are normally very aggressive and very territorial, so I knew something was wrong.”
She took her jacket off and wrapped the swan with it to walk him over to the nearest subway with her. She walked about a mile to the entrance of the refuge when she was asked by a group of people in a car if she needed help with transportation. They dropped her and the swan off at the nearest subway station.
Arial spoke with the Associated Press and expressed her gratitude for the kindness of strangers that usually get a bad rep in New York City. “I think it just shows the immense compassion of New Yorkers. People always think that we are rude and heartless, but we are just busy and have places to go, so we move fast,” Cordova-Rojas explained to the AP, “Even though we live in a concrete jungle, we are surrounded by nature and wildlife if you just take a second to look around. The wildlife are just as much New Yorkers as we are, and it is our duty to keep each other safe.”
Cordova-Rojas positioned the bird comfortably on the bench of the subway, while she stood with her bike and they rode the subway together. The swan and Ariel rode the train to the Nostrand Avenue stop in Brooklyn, where she met with someone from the wildlife rehabilitation organization based on the Upper West Side called the Wild Bird Fund.
The New York Daily News later reported that the bird was suffering from lead toxicity, as well as a bacterial or fungal infection. The director of the Wild Bird Fund, Rita McMahon, told the Daily News, “She looks pretty good but she doesn’t want to move much. She has a nice big cage, and she has a buddy, another swan to keep her company.”