This week, we were very pleased to see the return of Croupier, the oldest living member of the famous Gambling Dynasty. Croupier’s long family lineage commenced in 1969 when his grandparents, Nijinsky and Caroline, were first recorded at Slimbridge by the Scott family. Since then, many generations of this dynasty have made the long trek back to Slimbridge each winter, bringing with them insights into their lives. And what remarkable lives they have led.
Croupier (Photo by Steve Heaven)
Croupier’s mother, Casino, was the longest-lived wild Bewick’s swan on record for many years, reaching an elderly 27 years in 1998. Since then, her record has been surpassed by Brimstone (29 years) and Winterling (28 years). They are a highly productive family: during her long reign, Casino brought 34 cygnets back to Slimbridge from the Russian Arctic.
Sadly this winter, Croupier has arrived without his long-term partner, Dealer. During the 19 years they were together, they reared and brought back to Slimbridge 29 cygnets. The cygnets learned the 2,500 mile migration route when following their parents and we often see different generations of the same family on Swan Lake at the same time. Just this morning, Croupier was joined at the feed by Bookmaker and Croupie, two of his off-spring from 2014 and 2004. Few families have demonstrated these birds’ characteristic site fidelity and loyalties to each other as well as The Gamblers, and we hope to see them continue to winter at Slimbridge for many years to come.