Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/25/swan_divorce/

Swan couple in surprise divorce

Gloucestershire wildfowl sanctuary witnesses rare bust-up

By Lester Haines

Posted in Science, 25th January 2010 12:17 GMT

A Gloucestershire wildfowl sanctuary has witnessed a rare bust-up between a pair of Bewick's swans, who've apparently decided to go their separate ways in a surprise "divorce".

The pair in question turned up at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Slimbridge on their annual migration from Arctic Russia, but each with a new partner. Of the 4,000 Bewick's swan couples who've been studied at the sanctuary over the last 40 years, this is just the second who've cut short their their traditionally long and loyal relationship.

The BBC explains that the swans normally mate for life and only find a new mate if one them dies. Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust staff began to suspect something was amiss when male swan Sarindi flew in without his partner of two years, Saruni, and sporting a new other half, dubbed Sarind.

Saruni wasn't dead, though, and soon arrived with replacement boyfriend Surune.

Julia Newth, Slimbridge wildlife health research officer, explained that the divorced couple "had not acknowledged each other with any signs of recognition or greeting - even though they are occupying the same part of the small lake".

She suggested the reason for the split could be "failure to breed* ... as they had been together for a couple of years but had never brought back a cygnet, but it is difficult to say for sure". ®

Bootnote

* Not a phrase you'll hear in relation to Brad and Angelina, in the unlikely event they ever decide to pitch up at their Hollywood overwintering habitat with new partners.