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Zoos show off animal lovebirds for Valentine crowds

Zoos across Germany are trying to tempt visitors in this Valentine's weekend with information about the love life of animals – but there's plenty of interesting facts amid the marketing.

Zoos show off animal lovebirds for Valentine crowds
Two black swans swim side by side in the Munich zoo. Photo: DPA

Some zoos are even offering whole packages including champagne or mulled wine to complete the loved-up atmosphere.

Two Nyala antelopes 'kissing' in Munich zoo. Photo: DPA

“We want to show something about the biological background of behaviour,” Nuremberg Zoo educator Christian Dienemann said. “It shouldn't be a lot of hot air, nor deadly serious, but with a wink.”

Humboldt penguins cleaning one another in Bremerhaven zoo. Photo: DPA

Penguins are perhaps the best-known monogamous animals, sometimes even sticking with one partner for life. And they show much more courtship behaviour at the beginnings of relationships than when raising children later.

“Like an old married couple,” Dienemann said.

Two red flamingos in Munich Zoo. Photo: DPA

Meanwhile, flamingos use highly ritualized touching behaviours in their courtships. “One could say that they dance,” Dienemann explained, as individuals seek out a partner who can match their sense of rhythm.

A Pygmy marmoset carries its child on its back. Photo: DPA

And pygmy marmosets from South America – the world's smallest true apes – always have twins when they reproduce. The mothers don't do anything for their young but nurse them, with the men taking on the rest of the childrearing.

Two lions in Münster Zoo. Photo: DPA

Lions, meanwhile, are well-known for their ferocity in mating just as much as in the hunt.

Pairs get together for a few days while the females are in heat, mating up to 50 times a day – or every 15 minutes.

“As a human being, you can absolutely ask whether you would enjoy that too,” Dienemann acknowledged.

SEE ALSO: 7 songs to make your German lover swoon on Valentine's

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world. 

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