Broken-Hearted Swan Looks for Love

German zoo officials to reunite an unhappy black swan with her paddle-boat love.

ByCHRISTEL KUCHARZ
February 11, 2009, 12:37 AM

PASSAU, Germany, March 27, 2008 — -- The love affair was short-lived. Petra, the wild black swan who has become a minor celebrity, appears to be lonely after her mate, a white swan, has ditched her for another.

Zoo officials in Muenster, Germany, are going to reunite the animal with what appears to be the love of her life — a white paddle boat shaped like an oversized swan.

Sound strange? Not really, when you listen to the zoo director, Joerg Adler.

"We thought she was all set, when she and her new mate, a white swan, were building a nest together," said Adler. "But then her mate decided to fly off seeking the company of other black swans. She's swimming around in an agitated state ever since he ditched her, and we got to calm her down."

What's happening now may be the end of a long story that began in spring 2006, when Petra fell head over heels for a swan-shaped paddle boat out on Lake Aasee, located near the zoo in the city of Muenster.

She would not let the boat out of her sight, and over the following months became so attached to it that she refused to mingle with other swans.

Eventually, by the end of fall, the boat had to be removed from the lake, but the boat owner did not have the heart to separate the two.

Zoo director Adler decided to let Petra stay with it, taking both bird and boat into the city's zoo for the winter.

The project was financed by local residents for whom Petra has become a bit of a celebrity.

Wildlife experts had been hoping she would lose interest in the boat when she got to know other black swans living in the zoo, but Petra always kept close to it and sometimes even nestled in the hollow area underneath it.

The odd couple became a media attraction, and camera crews from all over the world came to Muenster to report on Petra and "her paddle boat lover."

It wasn't until a week ago that Petra apparently ditched the boat for a real-life white swan living at the zoo, who seemed interested in her company. Was it possible that true love was on its way?

They spent a few days together building a nest, making the zoo officials believe this was the real thing.

Eventually, the boat was returned to its owner at Lake Aasee and everything seemed just fine, until the white swan apparently lost interest in Petra.

He simply flew off and is now seen spending time with a group of other birds at the zoo.

"We thought they'd be happy together, going to live a long and happy life, but unfortunately the romance only lasted a few days," the zoo director told ABC News.

"Normally swans choose a partner for life but for some reason, that does not seem to work with Petra."

"She now appears to be lonely and seems very upset. We're going to take her back to the lake tomorrow, and we're hoping that reuniting her with the boat will make her feel good again."

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