Odd Couple Together For Keeps Swan Spending Holidays With Swan-Shaped Pedalo

Petra the black swan has become such a celebrity in Germany that her every wish is being granted. Convalescing from a minor ailment in a German zoo, she has been moved into a comfortable room together with the swan-shaped pedal boat she has fallen in love with. Animal psychologists see little hope that she will ever be persuaded to ditch the plastic two-seater.

Partners for life? Petra together with the swan of her dreams.

Partners for life? Petra together with the swan of her dreams.

A black swan named Petra who become a celebrity in Germany after falling in love with a swan-shaped pedal boat has been allowed to spend Christmas with the object of her affections, and animal psychologists say the two are likely to remain inseparable.

Petra swooped into a lake in the northwestern German city of Münster in the summer and immediately started paddling contentedly alongside the plastic two-seater boat, a faithful replica of a white swan.

She quickly attracted the attention of local and then national media. However, she was evidently so lovestruck that she paid no attention to the boatloads of photographers and cameramen who followed the odd couple around Lake Aasee near the centre of Münster during the summer.

When boating ceased for the winter, the owner of the boat, under pressure from a large and growing Petra fan club, didn't have the heart to separate the two and agreed to have the vessel taken to a pond in Münster zoo. Petra duly paddled after it. The two were moved last week into a room in the penguin house so that Petra could have her foot treated for an infection. The unlikely pair spent their first Christmas together in the comfortable facilities.

"She always keeps close to the pedal boat and sometimes even nestles in the hollow area underneath it," Münster zoo director Jörg Adler told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "She regards it as her firm partner. We're going to introduce her to some male swans in March to see if she fancies mating with a real swan but I don’t think she does.

"From what experts have told me I fear she'll drive away any natural suitors," Adler added. "We have to assume she's going to stick with the boat." If she does, she will be free to spend the summer back in the lake paddling with her plastic lover.

The couple has attracted such a following that nothing is likely to come between them. The zoo has received over a hundred letters and emails to Petra from children and adults across the country, and she is one of the zoo's main attractions. Locals have even composed a "swan ballad" in her honor.

"We've got real swanomania here," said Adler.

The tale of Petra may offer some consolation to German animal-lovers. There was widespread dismay in Germany at the shooting of Bruno the brown bear in Bavaria in July. Bruno had been on a seven-week rampage around the Alps, during which he overturned numerous beehives and devoured dozens of sheep and chickens.


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