Lancelot and Elaine have been an Iowa State tradition since 1935, when a pair of white swans was introduced during Veisha. The history of each generation of these majestic creatures is well chronicled throughout the University Archives (open to students and members of the community, if anyone is interested in further research). One story I find especially interesting is the brief period from 1995 to 1999, when a change to the species of swan kept in Lake LaVerne backfired spectacularly.
In 1995, as part of an effort to rebuild Iowa’s trumpeter swan population, the new edition of Lancelot & Elaine came in the form of trumpeter swans. However, the trumpeter swans caused a lot more trouble than the mute swans that had previously occupied the lake. The trumpeter swans proved to have no fear of students, nor oncoming traffic. The swans regularly ventured away from Lake LaVerne and wandered all around campus, creating more than a few hazards.
In 1999, the decision was made to remove the Trumpeter swans from campus due to the fact they had not been able to acclimate to the environment. The decision to remove the trumpeter swans from Iowa State is explained in more detail in the internal memo from August 27th, 1999, which is shown below.
Sounds like relocating the trumpeter swans and bringing back the mute swans really was the best course of action. All of the information in this post can be found in collection RS 4/8/4 Box 24.