An afternoon of despair
MAGNETIC ISLAND, QUEENSLAND THE rubber dinghy sped along an inlet on Toronto Island Park, its two happy occupants laughing loudly.
When the dull thud of the collision sounded, no one seemed to notice; the people in the dinghy were still laughing as they sped away. With a sense of dread, I walked to the water’s edge.
In the shallow water near the bank was a white swan, blood pouring from its belly; then I heard its mate’s clicking sounds of panic as it approached from across the inlet.
A woman with a baby phoned an emergency number; she was told help was at least two hours’ away. She also confirmed what I suspected. ‘‘They were aiming straight for that bird,’’ she said.
Stopping the garbage man as he drove towards us, I asked him if he could send for help. When I explained why, he looked incredulous. ‘‘A swan? So what? The foxes will get it later. Who cares?’’
By this time the swan’s long neck had folded on to its body. Then it shook its head and tried to raise it, but in vain. On the bank, a young woman was taking photographs and exclaiming to her partner how cute the swan looked. ‘‘It is dying,’’ I said. ‘‘Dying?’’ she responded, shocked.
The young woman at the farm on the island was closing the barn for the night when I rushed in. She promised she would radio for help. I walked reluctantly towards the crowds congregating for the overcrowded ferry back to Toronto.
I returned to my hotel with a heavy heart and emailed the marine police to report animal cruelty. The quick response was apologetic, reassuring me this sort of behaviour is frowned upon by most Canadians. As a regular traveller to Canada, I know this is so. But, as I left Toronto, I knew this horrid scene would always stay with me.