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The Times May 18, 2006



Black cygnets born as rare summer prophets
By Simon de Bruxelles



Nearly all of the swans in Britain are owned by the Monarch - but not the ones at Abbotsbury Swannery.



For the first time in 600 years, the world-famous Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset is home to six black cygnets.

Black swans are normally found only in Australia and New Zealand and the cygnets’ parents probably escaped from a zoo or wildlife park.

Traditionally, the first young swans to emerge each year are supposed to herald the beginning of summer. This is the first time that they have been black.

Unlike other swans in Britain, the 1,000 swans at Abbotsbury do not belong to the Queen because they were sold to the Ilchester Estate by Henry VIII in 1541.

It is illegal to let black swans breed in the wild, so the cygnets will be moved when they are older.

thetimesonline.co.uk