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San Francisco’s latest gender bender: Myrtle the swan is a he

July 13, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Since her illness, most neighbors around Mountain Lake have noticed that Myrtle the swan hasn’t been herself. But they may not have known just how much.

Veterinarians at the San Francisco Zoo have discovered something new about the lake’s favorite busybody.

Myrtle is a he.

Vet Freeland Dunker made the discovery Friday, taking a peek at Myrtle’s underside as the swan recovered from a lung infection and lead poisoning.

``People keep calling Myrtle a `she,′ and with all the interest from the public, I thought it would be nice to be accurate,″ Dunker said.

Residents in the city’s Richmond District have long known that Myrtle _ a 15-year-old swan known for its crotchety, loud ways _ has little patience for women. But they weren’t expecting her illness to uncover the city’s latest gender bender.

Myrtle was taken to the zoo on June 2 after visitors to the lake noticed that the swan was lethargic and honkless. But now, Myrtle is on the mend.

``The honk is back,″ Dunker said. ``And she’s getting the lead out. I mean, he’s getting the lead out.″