Man Caught on Camera Tossing Baby Swans Into Cooler and Stealing Them

A Florida man has been accused of stealing baby swans from an Orlando park, leading to police involvement.

According to WKMG Orlando, visitors to the city's Lake Eola were reportedly stunned when they saw someone taking recently-hatched baby swans away from their families and putting them inside a red cooler.

Frank Howard and his fiancé were two of those guests who saw the scene unfold. Howard told the news outlet that they suddenly saw a man in athletic wear and sneakers approach a swan family with two babies, known as cygnets.

When asked, the man reportedly claimed that he was employed by Lake Eola Park to protect the cygnets. The adult swans, however, were apparently unhappy with the intervention: when the man grabbed one of the babies, the mother swan tried to fight back.

"He reached down and grabbed one, and the mom started going crazy and he hit the mom with the cooler," Howard said. "He was saying, 'Yeah, we rescue them all the time. I've done this many times, look at my arms are all scratched up from the fathers attacking me.'"

Swan and Cygnet
A swan and cygnet at England's Abbotsbury Swannery, May 8, 2021. Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

While they did believe the man's story at first, the incident made a lasting impact on Howard's fiancé, who was reportedly left in tears. "The mother looks so sad now because she [doesn't] have her baby and they were so cute, adorable," Howard said.

"We're sad because we didn't think, we like to believe in humanity in people and not everybody is bad, so we were hoping the guy was good, he was really doing it for a reason. But after he took them, we realized nothing made sense."

Video footage taken by Howard and later shared by WKMG corroborates his recollection of the scene. The clip shows the man putting the babies into the cooler while one of the adult swans furiously follows him. He then appears to hit the adult swan in the face with the cooler.

Meanwhile, passers-by can be heard yelling at the man, who carries no tools or protective gear, to stop. Howard, still believing the man was a park employee, tries to explain that the man is protecting the cygnets. In hindsight, however, it has become clear that was not the case.

On Monday, the couple reportedly called a Lake Eola Park ranger who informed them that there is not an official swan rescue program run by the park, revealing the man's story to be a lie.

Howard called then the Orlando Police Department to investigate the potential theft, and as of Monday evening, WKMG says that the two cygnets have been found.

As of Tuesday, no arrests in the case have been made.