Rubber Duck

Rubber Duck not all it's quacked up to be as Beijingers bemoan entrance fee

The giant rubber duck that thrilled Hongkongers when it floated around Victoria Harbour has had less of an impact in Beijing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 September, 2013, 3:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 September, 2013, 4:11pm

Beijing on Friday welcomed its first authentic version of the giant rubber duck that has made a splash in Hong Kong harbour and around the world and inspired fakes across the country - but the big bird drew complaints in China’s capital from visitors who had to pay to view it.

The inflatable yellow bird created by the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, which has made appearances from Australia to South America since 2007, attracted huge attention in the mainland after photos were published picturing it bobbing up and down in Victoria Harbour.

The artwork even took on a commercial aspect in China, with property developers displaying imitations in Hangzhou, Tianjin and other cities, which were criticised by the Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily.

Previous displays of the larger-than-life rubber duck have normally been free, but the moneymaking continued with the authentic artwork in Beijing as it went on show at the International Garden Expo on the outskirts of the city, which charges a 100 yuan (HK$126) entrance fee.

After a few weeks the duck will shift to the Summer Palace, an historic tourist spot that also charges an entrance fee.

Expo official Qiao Xiaopeng said there were currently no plans to offer a free day but that the expo offered a vast space to accommodate large numbers of visitors.

Initial crowds were small on Friday, however.

Kang Jing, 26, said she thought viewing the duck should be free, at least for Beijing residents.

“That would let more people come see it, which would be better,” she said.

The duck was not completely inflated by the time of its debut, its beak limp and its body tilting forward.

“It should be fatter and cuter,” Kang complained.

The duck looked smaller than she expected, Kang added -- even though the Beijing version was 18-metres high, compared with the 16.5-metre version on display in Hong Kong.

A well-known restaurant, Quanjude, sought to take advantage of the installation by using it to advertise its showpiece dish, Peking duck.

A sign at the expo entrance showed the artwork in a chef’s hat with the words: “Come see the big yellow duck and eat a Quanjude duck burger”.