When Swans Get Divorced

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Swans are a species that mates for life - supposedly. British naturalists were stunned recently to discover that two mated swans at a Gloucestershire wildfowl sanctuary had gotten divorced, and returned to the sanctuary with new mates.

According to BBC News:

[Wildlife research officer Julia] Newth said the old pair had not acknowledged each other with any signs of recognition or greeting - even though they are occupying the same part of the small lake. As for why they may have split, she said: "Failure to breed could be a possible reason, 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."


This only the second time in 40 years that observers at this sanctuary have recorded a swan divorce. Usually swans only choose a new mate if the previous one has died. Now that animal-tracking technology has gotten so much better, however, we may see more "unexpected" animal behavior that previous generations of researchers were unable to observe. In other words, swan monogamy might be a lot more like human monogamy than we thought: Rife with cheating, divorce, and mate-swapping.

via BBC News

Image via Mike Hewitt/Getty