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Rotherham's rescued swans are back after their flood clean up

VIDEO: The release operation - RSPCA officers return the cleaned up swans.

RSPCA staff have started to release 49 swans back into the wild after they were saved from oil contamination during the floods.

The animal charity rescued the swans from Rotherham's Parkgate Canal Basin, off Rawmarsh Road.

Their feathers were caked in oil, which is thought to have spilled into the waterway from cars which were trapped in the deluge four weeks ago.

Swanning about - The first of the rescue birds are returned to Rotherham Credit: RSPCA

It was so important we rescued the swans as pollution on the bird’s feathers damages the structure of them and also when they are preening they ingest the contaminants and this makes them ill. “It was a really successful operation. Managing to capture so many swans is quite a big task. "But we had such a fantastic team of specially trained water rescue officers to assist with a number of boats being used.

– Sara Jordan - RSPCA Inspector
Back in the basin - One of the first batch of swans is eased back into the water Credit: RSPCA

Officers used rescue boats picked up the swans and then transported them to RSPCA centres around the country, where staff were involved in the painstaking process of gently cleaning the feathers.

The first batch of 26 birds have been returned to the canal basin in Rotherham with more due to be released over the next few days.

The RSPCA launched an emergency fund-raising appeal on Facebook which raised almost £3,000 towards the clean-up operation.

VIDEO: The rescue operation - RSPCA officers collect the oil-covered swans four weeks ago.