Swan dies after being shot in head in Sunderland country park

The swan was found with multiple ball bearings in his head. Credit: Sharon Badresingh

A swan has been killed after suffering serious injuries when it was shot in the head.

ZAA had been a resident of Herrington Country Park in Sunderland since 2011 and was one of the most well-known in the park before his death last week.

He was found with several ball bearings in his head and was put down to end his suffering.

The swan's death follows similar incidents at Hetton Lyons Country Park, in Hetton-le-Hole, which saw several ducks killed or injured after being shot.

Wayne Badresingh has been looking after swans in the park for over 20 years alongside his wife Sharon and has been left devastated by the attack.

The swan had to be put down to stop its suffering after being shot in the head. Credit: Sharon Badresingh

"He was the loveliest swan in the park," Mr Badresingh told ITV Tyne Tees. "You could see the pain he was in after the attack. You could see he was dying, it was brutal.

"They are cowards for picking off a defenceless animal. What will they do next if they can do something like that?"

It is not the first time ZAA has been attacked after previously being left for dead by two dogs in 2015 while his life partner ZAB was killed last year.

The incident is being investigated by animal welfare charities Pawz for Thought and the RSPCA while Northumbria Police have also been informed.

ZAA's life-partner ZAB was previously killed. Credit: Sharon Badresingh

Lynne Ebdale, one of the directors at animal charity Pawz for Thought, is personally offering a reward of £1,000 for any information that directly leads to the culprits being caught.

"Every day we are getting reports that something has been shot or is getting caught up in netting," she said. "Hopefully we can use this incident to spread more awareness.

"It is unnecessary, uncalled-for cruelty and the world is cruel enough as it is."

Ms Ebdale will soon attend a meeting with the friends of the park as they try to come up with solutions to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

The RSPCA has confirmed they are investigating the incident.

A spokesperson said: “This is a really heartbreaking incident and we are investigating. 

“The injuries suffered were truly awful and would have caused the swan to be in a lot of pain and it is very concerning that someone could deliberately attack wildlife in such a cowardly way.

“We would urge anyone who has information about this incident - specifically the person or persons responsible - to contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.”

A Northumbria Police spokesperson added: “We can confirm police are aware of a report of a swan being fatally injured in Herrington Country Park in Sunderland – with officers supporting the RSPCA with the investigation.

“As a force, we take all reports of wildlife crime very seriously, and anyone who causes unnecessary suffering to an animal could face criminal action.

“Together with our partners, we will continue to take robust action against anyone found to be involved in this type of offending.

“Anyone who would like to report animal cruelty or an animal in distress should contact the RSPCA or call police 101. In an emergency, or where a crime is taking place, always dial 999.”

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