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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.
The Central Park Pond's newly-arrived male Mandarin Duck (we still do not know how it got here) unseated the Wood Duck as prettiest duck in the park. Gus Keri brings us close-up video pic.twitter.com/cauqVt4kSK— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) October 11, 2018
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.
Everything about this duck is on point https://t.co/nJHO2H7w92— Des Shoe (@DesNYT) October 31, 2018
there is still joy in this world and it comes in the form of mandarin ducks https://t.co/yVT89ibDzw— kelly oakes (@kahoakes) October 31, 2018
New York is for everyone, even a Mandarin duck that made Central Park its home https://t.co/PSPAKhHPwJ— Sandra E. Garcia (@S_Evangelina) October 31, 2018
Mandarin duck is the new pizza rat https://t.co/r52fwX5K3R— Grace Dobush (@GraceDobushToGo) October 31, 2018
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 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.