Photographs captured what appears to be a swan drowning itself after the death of a nearby bird thought to be its mother.
Yan Yan Hsiao was hiking and stopped at a lake in Sanmenxia, part of Central China’s Henan province, when she noticed a commotion out in the water.
“I looked over and saw the swan which was clearly a young animal alongside an older bird that was clearly dead,” Hsiao said. “She had either died because of the cold or old age but either way the young bird was very distressed.”
Hsiao said the swan then suddenly quieted down.
“After calling and flapping its wings, it then stuck its head in the water and I thought it had calmed down, but then I realized it was keeping its head in the water,” she said. “Minutes later, it was dead.”
The incident occurred on Dec. 30. According to The Inquisitr, another witnessed saw the young swan knock its head against a portion of ice in the semi-frozen lake before taking its own life.
The death of the young swan raises a question that has been investigated by scientists for years – can the self-inflicted death of an animal due to depression be classified as a suicide? Though the topic has been one of debate for a long time, there have been other instances of apparent suicide that support such a classification, like the 1855 death of a dog who’d made numerous attempts to throw itself into the water to drown before passersby finally allowed it to happen. According to the Daily Mail, ducks have also been known to take their own lives after a mate dies.
Hsiao said she didn’t realize when taking the remarkable photos that she was capturing the swan’s apparent suicide.