I am here to dispel a longstanding lie, promulgated by numerous fairy tales and also boats designed to romantically convey couples around small ponds. That lie is that swans are anything other than vicious, bad-natured motherfuckers who will kill you just as soon as look at you.
Exhibit A comes via the Telegraph. One man made the mistake of turning his back on a swan at the Great Bend Zoo, in Kansas, to take a swan selfie. One of them promptly bit his back, with the whole affair caught on tape.
But if he'd done his homework, he might have expected the attack. Once, while strolling through a park populated by these creatures, I saw a swan hissing and ready to open up a can of whoop-ass on an unsuspecting dog. (The dog wisely backed down.) Here is a collection of anecdotes about serious injuries resulting from swan encounters. There are videos of aggro swans all over YouTube. In 2012, a man drowned to death when he attacked by a swan while kayaking.
I would sooner approach a bear cub than a gosling.
Of course, you cannot blame swans for this. They are wild animals, and nature is cruel! There are plenty of animals that would likely love nothing more than to snack on some swans and their babies. Swans have to be tough.
No, the fault lies with Western culture, which has recklessly praised the beauty and grace of the swan for centuries. Plus, they're monogamous, so they're considered wildly romantic. Swan Lake, the tale of the ugly duckling, The Trumpet of the Swan—lies! All lies! We have been sold a bill of goods! And now we host these ill-natured birds in our parks and ponds and zoos.
Do not approach swans. They are not your friends. They are not romantic. And they will destroy you. GTFO, swans.