Three teenagers have been arrested after allegedly stealing a prized swan in upstate New York before killing and eating it.
Faye and her four cygnets were taken from a pond in the village of Manlius, a suburb in the city of Syracuse, over the Memorial Day weekend on Saturday.
Police opened an investigation after the swans were reported missing on Monday.
A member of the public spotted two of the cygnets in a shop in the nearby town of Salina and called authorities, Manlius Police Sergeant Ken Hatter said.
A teenager who worked at the shop confessed to taking part in the swan-napping along with two other suspects, police said.
The remaining two cygnets were found at the first suspect’s home in Syracuse, officers added.
However, the mother swan was eaten after being cooked by one suspect’s aunt, Sgt Hatter said.
“The mother swan was consumed,” Manlius mayor Paul Whorrall added on Wednesday.
“Sad to say, but that’s what they did.”
Faye’s mate Manny has been seen swimming around the pond on his own since the swans were taken.
The three teenagers were arrested on Tuesday on charges including theft and criminal mischief in connection with the animals’ disappearance.
Two of the suspects, aged 16 and 17, were released to their parents because they are juveniles.
The third, who is 18, is awaiting arraignment.
Life goes on for four baby swans
The young swans will be cared for and returned to the pond in a few weeks when they are old enough to survive on their own, Sgt Hatter said.
Faye and her mate Manny had swanned about in the village pond in Manlius for over a decade and and each spring hatched and raised cygnets.
Faye was a “mute swan” – a species which is not native to North America.
They were introduced as an ornamental species but are considered invasive by wildlife officials.
Hunting swans is legal in a few US states but not in New York.
The village of Manlius has a swan insignia on its website as well as on merchandise like hats and T-shirts.
“The swans have been a part of this village for well over 100 years,” Mr Whorrall said. “We’re known for our swans.”