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Mandarin duck found in Central Park becomes viral sensation

Mike's Birds/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

New Yorkers are in love with this handsome duck.

If you didn’t know better you might think this duck, found in New York City, was dressed up for Halloween. It’s bright colors certainly make it stand out even in the middle of Manhattan. The truth it’s a Mandarin duck, native to eastern Asia, that somehow found its way into a pound in Central Park. The beautiful bird was first brought to the public’s attention by Gus Keri, a member of Manhattan Bird Alert, a group that tracks rare birds found in New York City.

Although the duck is a native of Asia, Mandarin ducks have also been introduced to some parts of Europe—but never the United States. According to the New York Times, none of the city’s four major zoos are missing a duck, and leading experts theorize the bird was perhaps someone’s pet who either escaped or was set loose. He also could have come from a nearby state such as New Jersey.

After the duck first appeared, it mysteriously vanished. But now it’s back again. “For almost two weeks we didn’t know what happened to it,” David Barrett, the creator and manager of Manhattan Bird Alert, told the New York Times. “We assumed it got eaten by a raptor.” A distinctive band on one of its legs let bird watchers know it was indeed the same duck.

The bird has turned into a bit of star in Manhattan. It’s been showing up in various places near Central Park, and New Yorkers can’t seem to get enough.

Barrett says he thinks the duck, which eats mainly bugs and vegetation, will actually be okay living in New York. “As long as it has open water, it will do just fine,” he said. “He might live very happily on the Central Park Pond.” It’s also become friends with some of the other ducks in the pond and appears to be completely healthy.

John McCoy, the deputy director of the Urban Park Rangers, told the New York Times that the city has no plans to remove the duck but will get involved if it becomes sick or injured.

H/T New York Times

David Britton

David Britton

David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.