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How a Mandarin duck enraptured New York City

  • Observers have crowded Central Park in the hopes of seeing the ‘hot duck’ since it first appeared on October 10 – but no one knows where it came from
PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 November, 2018, 9:31am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2018, 9:19pm

They call it Mandarin mania.

Swarms of New York City locals, tourists and bird watchers have gathered at the shores of a Central Park pond since a mandarin duck was spotted there on October 10.

Observers have crowded the shores of Central Park’s pond, hoping to get a glimpse of the colourful plumage and striking beak that sets the mandarin duck apart from your average mallard, and inspired its nickname, “hot duck ”.

Mandarin mania has become so intense that panic struck on Wednesday when the Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter account declared: “The MANDARIN DUCK has gone missing.”

“This makes me nervous,” wrote one worried duck fan.

“Thoughts and prayers,” said another.

The duck was eventually spotted. Though given his wings, fame and interest in the Hudson river, there is concern he could disappear again. Maybe even for good.

The duck has enraptured New York City in a way no small creature has since a rat was seen carrying a pizza slice down subway stairs in 2015.

Where pizza rat was a symbol for the city’s grime, the mandarin duck is a symbol of majesty and grace in Manhattan’s largest park.

No one has identified how the bird arrived in New York – mandarin ducks originate from eastern Siberia, China and Japan, though large mandarin duck populations also exist in Britain.

David Barrett, who runs the Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter, has said the Central Park mandarin duck was probably released or escaped from a zoo or private owner.

A mandarin duck has also been spotted in Canada, where the news has been met with less fanfare.

Burnaby Lake Park in Vancouver said it first spotted Canada’s hottest duck in May and has quashed attempts to greet its mandarin with New York-level hysteria.

“The Burnaby Lake community has been very Canadian-like as we are with any unfeathered celebrity and not bothered him too much by keeping a respectful distance,” said Burnaby Lake Park Association’s Twitter account.

The Association has also encouraged people to look at the park’s other birds.

Barrett rejected a theory proposed by New York magazine’s The Cut that there is a global mandarin duck conspiracy.

“There’s no worldwide outbreak of them, they pop up,” he said.

“I think now that our duck is in the news, other people are more attuned.”