The RSPCA has appealed for witnesses after a woman strangled a swan to death in a park.
A passer-by called police and the animal welfare charity to say the bird was being attacked by a woman in Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, on Thursday evening.
Police found the swan dead and spoke to two women in connection with the incident.
This is the shocking image of a swan who had been strangled by a woman in Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street, Co Durham on Thursday evening
The RSPCA is asking anyone who may have been in the park, pictured, at the time of the incident on Thursday evening. Experts believe the swan had been strangled to death
Swans are protected by law and anyone harming a wild bird could be jailed, the charity said.
RSPCA inspector Trevor Walker said: ‘Police were initially called by a member of the public who saw a woman grab the swan, straddle the bird and wring its neck.
‘Officers attended the scene where they found the adult swan dead – with a soft tissue injury consistent with being strangled – and spoke to two women in connection with the incident.
‘The bird’s body was removed by council workers and we were contacted to investigate.’
He added: ‘This sounds like an extremely upsetting incident and this attack has led to the unnecessary, tragic death of a beautiful bird.
‘I’d like to hear from anybody who was in the park at around 7pm on Thursday evening and who may have seen the incident or the women involved.
‘Anyone with information which could aid our investigation can contact our appeal line on 0300 123 8018 and leave me a message.’