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Black swan at Bavarian palace seeks partner

The Rosenau Palace in southern Germany has published a lonely hearts ad on behalf of its resident black swan. Ground keepers believe the bird's former companion was eaten by a fox.

The department that oversees state-owned palaces, gardens and lakes in the southern state of Bavaria sent out its rather unusual appeal to the public on Thursday.

"The sex of the animal isn't important," a message on the department's website read. "Ideally it should be more than three years old, but this isn't an absolute must."

The department has been on the lookout for a match since May, when one of the two black swans that lived in the palace grounds disappeared. Palace gardeners later found bones and feathers in one of the park's bushes.

"He was probably eaten by a fox," the department concluded.

Rosenau Palace

Rosenau Palace was the birthplace of Prince Albert, the husband and consort of Britain's Queen Victoria

Rosenau garden department head Steffen Schubert has been sending out enquiries every day to try and locate a candidate - without success. Finding a replacement isn't just about sparing the surviving swan from loneliness, he says.

"Swans have a special significance in the history of Rosenau Palace and park," he said.

Queen Victoria's spiritual home

Black swans were reportedly first introduced to the palace grounds by Britain's Queen Victoria as a symbol of mourning following the premature death of her husband Prince Albert, who was born at Rosenau Palace in 1819.

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Palaces in Germany

The royals visited the palace together in 1845, five years after they were married. In her memoirs, the queen wrote: "If I were not who I am, this would be my real home."

The palace, near the town of Coburg in northern Bavaria, is home to Swan Lake and Prince's Pond.

In its statement, the department said the new swan would have a good life, with a 2-hectare lake and a newly built "swan house" at its disposal. In the chillier months, the birds also have winter quarters with water access and are fed every day. The department said it would go itself to pick up the bird if a member of the public was willing to donate a swan to the grounds.

"We hope our swan does not have to be alone for too long," a spokeswoman for the palace management told German news agency DPA.

Rosenau Palace was used for various purposes during the 20th century, including as a retirement home, before it was transferred to the state of Bavaria in 1972. Since 1990, the house and its landscape gardens have been open to the public.

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