Gulf News

Bubble bath cure for off-colour Royal swans

Researcher­s find that Fairy Liquid removed the microbes responsibl­e for discoloura­tion

- BY NICOLE MARTIN

Usually being in the pink is considered to be a good thing, but not if you are part of the Queen’s flock of swans.

The normally pure white birds have been struck by a syndrome — the so-called Pink Feather Flamingo syndrome — that is turning them into passable imitations of their tropical counterpar­ts.

The mystery illness causes the swans not only to change colour but also to lose their waterproof coating, leading the weakest to die from the cold in the winter.

Swan Lifeline, a charity based at Eton College, which cares for sick and injured swans, believes that hundreds of them have been affected in recent years, the vast majority in Windsor and Caversham in Reading.

Solution

But now, after a two-year investigat­ion, scientists in America have found a solution: a bubble bath using Fairy Liquid. The Regal Swan Team, a research group based in Orlando, Florida, isolated the bacteri- um responsibl­e for the pink discoloura­tion and discovered that washing the swans with Fairy returned the feathers to their normal colour within two weeks. Swan Lifeline says the sick birds have already shown signs of improvemen­t.

“This is an extremely important developmen­t,” Professor Christophe­r Perrins, the Queen’s swan warden, said. “It seems to work very well. Anything that enhances the survival of the birds is good news.”

Perrins contacted the US team two years ago after noticing some of the swans in his care were turning pink. The researcher­s found that corynebact­erium caused the feathers to lose their white colour.

They tested several products and concluded that Fairy Liquid successful­ly removed the microbes. Shirley Bolin, a member of the US research team, said: “This is a huge breakthrou­gh. We recommend that swan keepers immediatel­y begin collecting the swans and bathe them with the Fairy Liquid.” –The Telegraph Group Limited, London 2007

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