Popular swan Pickles, believed to be the oldest in the UK, dies aged 30

A swan believed to be the oldest in the UK has died at the age of 30.

Pickles the whooper swan was a popular sight on the moat at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone in Kent.

Easily recognisable to visitors by his vibrant yellow bill, Pickles celebrated his 30th birthday earlier this year with a special swan-friendly cake.

Mark Brattle, falconry and wildlife manager at Leeds Castle, said on Monday: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pickles the swan, who passed away yesterday.

“Pickles the whooper swan, was a massive character at the castle and will be missed by staff and visitors alike.

“The falconry and wildlife team would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support.”

Pickles the swan
Pickles the whooper swan turned 30 in June (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Pickles was often seen paddling gracefully across the moat or on the Great Water, surrounded by his friends – mute swans, trumpeter swans and the castle’s famous black swans.

There are 19 captive-bred swans that call the grounds of Leeds Castle home, but none was more famous than Pickles, the castle’s oldest feathered resident, staff said.

The “feathered King of the Castle” is set to be fondly remembered.

The exact date of his birthday is unknown – when Pickles arrived at Leeds Castle in 2013, it was known only that he had hatched in early June 1991.

Staff from the falconry and wildlife team decided to designate June 3 as Pickles Day, for which there has been a celebration each year.

Whooper swans, which can grow up to 5ft 3in (160cm) in length, generally live to around the age of 10 in the wild, but have been known to reach their late 20s in captivity.