The swans that swim on the Mill Pond prefer brioche.

West Tisbury animal control officer Joan Jenkinson knows this; she feeds the birds on the pond twice a day. She makes sure to bring brioche for the pond’s resident swans, Bob and Bobette, and their cygnets. During one of these feedings on August 3, Mrs. Jenkinson noticed that a cygnet was seriously injured, bitten by a snapping turtle. She had named the cygnet Rocky.

“Rocky’s mom had already gone to the Tisbury Great Pond with five other cygnets,” Mrs. Jenkinson told the Gazette Friday. Young swans born on the Mill Pond usually migrate to the Tisbury Great Pond after a couple of months.

Animal control officer Joan Jenkinson: “It was bittersweet for me to let him go, but he can’t be a pet. He’s got to go be a swan.” — Sydney Bender

On that day in early August, “I just thought Rocky was there and that Bob was the only swan on the Mill Pond,” she said.

But he wasn’t. “Rocky was with him,” Mrs. Jenkinson said.

She threw bread to the cob swimming alone with his cygnet.

Three-month-old Rocky “took the bread and the bread fell out of a hole in his chest. I saw that and I knew I was in trouble,” Mrs. Jenkinson said. She called the nearby vet and when nobody picked up the phone, she scooped Rocky out of the pond and drove him over to the clinic. But nobody was inside either.

“It was closed, the vets were at lunch, so I took him home,” she said. Later that day she called the vet, who told her to keep a close eye on Rocky for about a month. She set up a home for the cygnet in her backyard. Each day, she treated Rocky’s wound with honey. She made trips to Cronig’s Market to get him a special sprouted grain bread. Word got around about the injured cygnet.

“People called every day to see how Rocky was doing,” she said.

Rocky’s wound got better. On Thursday this week, Mrs. Jenkinson put him in the back of her car and drove to the Mill Pond. “He went peep peep peep the whole car ride over,” she said. “It was hard because my husband and I grew really attached to him.”

When she got to the pond, she attached a string and a long cloth dog leash to Rocky before releasing him completely, just in case he wasn’t ready for the water.

But he was ready. Mrs. Jenkinson walked into the water with him, fish bumping against her legs.

She removed the string and let him swim to his father.

Rocky's father, Bob, munches on brioche. — Sydney Bender

“I had never seen such gyration!” Mrs. Jenkinson said. “It was bittersweet for me to let him go, but he can’t be a pet. He’s got to go be a swan.”

For now, Rocky lives on a patch of grass next to the Mill Pond. Bob keeps a close eye on him. Mrs. Jenkinson keeps her distance. “I’m going to let nature take its course. I’ve already messed with mother nature once. Maybe I wasn’t meant to save him. But I think I was,” she said.

On Friday afternoon she walked over to the pond with a bag of rolls as usual.

“Bob!” she bellowed across the tranquil pond. A flock of mallard ducks glided across the water. But there was no sign of Bob the swan.

“Bob’s on the other side of the pond, caring for Rocky,” Mrs. Jenkinson said. She decided to give Bob one last call. It worked.

She threw a roll into the water. Bob swam closer, his neck dipped into the pond and he gobbled it right up.

Brioche, his favorite.