New York City residents have seen it all, especially when it comes to riding the subway. Still, a woman lugging a massive swan onto the train isn’t exactly the norm!
Ariel Cordova-Rojas is a lifelong animal lover who happens to have been born and raised in the “concrete jungle” of NYC.
She works as an animal care manager at Wild Bird Fund, a nonprofit that helps birds and other wildlife in Manhattan.
One day, she was riding her bike near the Jamaica Plains Wildlife Refuge when she spotted a large swan that seemed to be injured. When she got closer, the animal tried to drag itself away from her, but it couldn’t stand on its own.
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Swans are often aggressive toward humans, tending to bite and hiss when someone gets too close. But Bae, as this one was quickly dubbed, didn’t do any of that.
“Something about her just didn’t seem right,” Ariel said. “I just couldn’t leave her there.”
Thanks to her experience with birds, Ariel knew she had to get Bae to the Wild Bird Fund as soon as possible. The only problem? The shelter is on the Upper West Side, which was many miles away.
Instead of giving up, Ariel wrapped the 17-pound swan in her jacket and carried her for about a mile, wheeling her bike along next to them.
“I knew exactly where to go, but it was the how to get there which was a big problem since I came on my bicycle,” she explained.
This is where those subway New Yorkers we mentioned really stepped up! Good Samaritans who saw her lugging the heavy bird and bicycle offered to help out. One person took her bike and brought it to the closest train stop, while another helped her get the bike and swan onto a subway car.
While they were riding the subway, Ariel snapped a few pictures of Bae nestled against the train bench. As for everyone else, she said, “Nobody really cared because this is New York City, and you see wild things every day.”
Ariel called her office to let them know she was on her way with Bae, and some friends and colleagues met up with her to help her with her heavy burden.
Thanks to their combined efforts, Bae is now in good hands being treated for lead poisoning and receiving antibiotics and anti-fungal medicine.
The bird was lucky that Ariel happened to be nearby when she needed help, but Ariel said rescuing the swan was the perfect way to spend her time. As it turns out, this all happened the day before her 30th birthday!
“Wildlife will always be integral to my life,” Ariel wrote on Facebook. “No other way to spend the last day of my 20s than rescuing an injured swan.”
Bae is one lucky bird! We’re so grateful to Ariel for saving this sweet life — and to all the people who helped her along the way. It really does take a village!
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