She gained worldwide fame in 2006 for following a white plastic swan paddleboat around the Aasee lake in what seemed to be a lovesick daze. But now an organised group of some 60 fans are posting “lost” notices around the area in hopes that she might return after disappearing three weeks ago.
“It's like losing a friend,” 47-year-old Rita Thieme, a veterinarian who normally hand feeds Petra three times a day, said on Thursday. “She is tame and reacts to my whistle.”
Thieme is a member of Petra's fan club, which is helping to organise the search for the bird. Witnesses at a lake some 100 kilometres away in Xanten have recently called the group to report a swan that seems to be seeking human contact, though.
If the bird turns out the be missing a bone in her right foot, it is likely Petra, since she had an operation to have it removed.
Thieme said she plans to travel to Xanten to see if she recognises "Black Petra." But she won't try to coax the bird back to Münster. "It's a wild animal, and one has to give it freedom," Thieme said.
Lonely Petra had apparently found real love with a Mute swan over the winter, but was returned to the lake of her paddleboat heartache this spring. Since then she hasn't been as fixated on her old flame, however, Thieme said.