Swans, Wikipedia tells us, usually mate for life. Divorce, though, the entry goes on, "does sometimes occur, particularly following nesting failure." Which perhaps explains why Petra, the famous black swan from the German town of Münster, has ditched her boyfriend for a new beau. It is, after all, difficult to nest with a giant, plastic pedal boat.
Just a few days after having moved into her winter quarters with the pedal boat she fell in love with over a year and a half ago, Petra began making eyes with a newcomer. The male swan is just as white as her previous true love, but he is made of feathers and blood instead of plastic.
"She seems to accept him and allows him to eat out of her food dish," a spokeswoman from the Münster zoo, where Petra spends her winters, told the local paper. Nobody, though, seems to know where the new swan came from. "He just showed up," the spokeswoman said. A weekend survey conducted by the paper, the Münstersche Zeitung, settled on naming Petra's new flame Paul, handily beating the second place name Ingo.
The romantic escapades of the black swan hit headlines around the world last year when she began following a white pedal boat around on the lake where she lived. When last winter arrived, she refused to be separated from the boat when workers removed it from the lake for the winter. The local zoo found a place for the swan and the boat to spend the winter together.
On Dec. 6 of this year, the two were once again taken from the lake to the zoo. But then Paul showed up, ruining another winter of cozy cuddling.
Despite the name, however, it is still unclear whether Paula might not be a better name for Petra's new friend. To determine whether the newcomer is indeed a male, a feather test would have to be carried out. Indeed, Petra was known as Peter early in her media career, until a similar test determined she was a she. Plus, the interloper is a different species than Petra -- and the two don't usually go together.
Still, a love affair with Paul would certainly be a step up from an infatuation with a swan-shaped pedal boat. And there is so far no indication that Petra is treating Paul merely as a rebound relationship. They spend much of their time swimming side-by-side. And Petra, it should be noted, isn't known for her philandering. A number of male swans have attempted to make her acquaintance over the last two years -- but Petra has rejected them all.