-- Ducks See Water For The First Time And Bewilder People Watching

If you’re keeping animals in confinement, it is important that you provide them with the right kind of environment. For example, if you decide to raise ducks, you should make sure they have constant access to water. However, this is a concept that not everyone understands.
When a complaint was made against a woman accused of animal hoarding, volunteers rushed to save them. Once they arrived, they quickly realized things were much worse than anticipated. The team ended up rescuing over a hundred animals, but it was a group of ducks that no one would be able to forget…
In September 2012, the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary found a number of animals in horrible condition. They were under the care of a hoarder who seemed to have a particular fondness for birds.
These animals were experiencing extreme neglect, and it was startling to see the way they’d been forced to live. The volunteers from the Sanctuary knew that they had to do something – and fast!
Before the volunteers could safely remove the animals, they needed to do a tally to see just how many there were. The woman who owned all of the birds had no fewer than 160 of them at the team’s final count.
This massive group included ducks, turkeys, chickens, and geese all kept in tight quarters and deprived of many basic necessities. It was an appalling case, one of the worst the volunteers have ever seen.
The ducks may have experienced the worst of it. They were forced to walk around on floors full of spilled food and their own foul-smelling fecal matter! Unfortunately, that was just the surface…
According to reports, these poor ducks were never exposed to water. That’s right, though they were born to take to water, these ducks had never gone for a swim in their life!
The rescuers planned on changing all of that, however, once they were allowed to vacate them from the premises. Finally, these ducks were going to get the lives they deserved.
Once the ducks were removed from their poor living conditions, and checked out by a veterinarian, it was time…
One could only imagine how excited these ducks must have been to go swimming for the very first time in their lives! Frankly, they must have been happy to be doing anything other than staying trapped in their old home.
The ducks first wandered around in a group, checking their surroundings, mainly the water. Initially, it looked as though some of them were more nervous than others about jumping in…
This was when Woodstock Animal Sanctuary volunteers stepped in and began to lightly chase the ducks into the water. Their reasoning?
While this might look like the volunteers are bullying them into the water, that couldn’t be further from the truth. “There are a number of considerations,” the group began…
“It was important to get the new ducks integrated into the park’s flock swiftly because by the end of the day, they would be sharing a coop to protect them from nocturnal predators,” they said in a press release.
“So any issues needed to be observed and dealt with if certain ducks were being picked on, etc., so that we could separate them again if necessary,” sounds pretty smart!
“The pond is a safe place for ducks because there are no corners, whereas the pasture perimeter does have corners,” they continued. They took every possible precaution.
It certainly sounded like they knew what they were doing when it came to getting the animals acclimated to the water! It’s clear that they took this job very seriously.
“Also we have limited staff and lots of other animals needing attention,” they added. They knew that they had a responsibility not to take away care from other animals just to help these ducks get into water.
“It was judicious for the safety of the new ducks to get them acclimated while staff members were present,” they added.
“From many previous experiences we knew they would love the water once they were in,” they concluded. It was definitely obvious that they couldn’t be happier!
Raising ducks isn’t an easy task — even if you do know how to properly take care of them. When two Irish farm owners bought a few fertilized duck eggs, they knew the key to their survival would be keeping them far away from predators. Of course, on a lively farm, that’s a little easier said than done…
As the owners of their own humble farm, Ronan and Emma Lally knew quite a bit when it came to taking care of animals. First and foremost, they knew that predators and prey were never to be mixed.
LFC 1892 / YouTube
Unwittingly, the two put this to the test when they decided to bring a few fertilized duck eggs back to their property in Clara, County Offaly, Ireland. Still, they worried that without a mother duck to provide for them, the future hatchlings would be in serious trouble.
Of course, that was easier said than done. One morning, when the couple went to check on the eggs, they discovered that they’d already hatched—but there were only empty shells laying in the barn…
They began to worry that something awful had happened—and that’s when they caught sight of the family cat, Della, suspiciously slinking off. Soon enough, they would realize that there was far more to the story of the missing ducklings.
LFC 1892 / YouTube
“Within seconds of that [not being able to find the ducklings],” Ronan said, “the cat jumped down from a pigeonhole in the shed over there, and I can put one and one together. I just presumed the cat had swallowed up the ducklings.”
For six hours, the two searched their farm to no avail, which only confirmed Ronan’s suspicions. “Ronan thought there was no hope at all,” Emma said. Still, they continued to check every corner just in case they found the baby ducks.
LFC 1892 / YouTube
Miraculously, the couple eventually found the ducklings! Only, the little quackers weren’t safely tucked in a hard-to-see corner of the barn. No, by all appearances, they were in serious trouble of becoming Della’s next meal.
LFC 1892 / YouTube
It turned out that the mighty predator Della was the one who had found the ducklings, and by the looks of it, that wasn’t good news. “The cat had a duck in her mouth at this stage,” Emma said.
EMRO lalster / YouTube
“I was thinking, ‘Oh no,'” Ronan said. “We’re only [just] getting them back, and now she’s going to eat them right in front of us!” And that would not have been out of character for a barn cat. But then Emma noticed something…
LFC 1892 / YouTube
Emma realized that Della wasn’t attacking the duck at all. In fact, she was being quite loving! As a little experiment, Ronan placed a duckling beside Della. That’s when the cat reached out her paw and did something truly remarkable.
“The three little ducklings waddled straight underneath the cat,” Ronan said. “Della laid down on her side, put her paw over one of the ducklings, and was kind of nursing it… it was incredible to see it.”
With the ducks under her wing—er, paw—Della started purring like a race car engine. To her, these ducklings weren’t dinner, but her own babies to love! That was even more impressive considering what Ronan and Emma found next…
LFC 1892 / YouTube
Amazingly, Della had given birth to kittens just hours before she found the ducklings—and that ended up saving the ducks’ lives. “Mothering hormones” were flowing through her, prompting her to treat the ducklings as if they were her own.
While under the “spell” of these hormones, Della followed one rule: if it was tiny, furry, and warm, then it must be her baby. When Ronan and Emma tried to move her to a safer place, they discovered just how far Della was willing to care for the ducks.
Believe it or not, the ducklings were breastfeeding from Della! Usually, ducklings in nature find their own food the moment they’re born. The fact that they were suckling was both strange and an oddly efficient solution to their food search.
Ronan feared that as Della’s hormones dissipated, she would eat the ducks for dinner, but Emma wasn’t so sure. In her day job as a midwife, she’d seen what love between a mother and her newborn looked like, and she saw the same signs with Della and her ducklings.
Della’s story made waves on the Internet, and people seemed to agree that they could see how much love the cat had for her feathered babies. Della made sure that each duckling had a chance to eat; she’d even pull away the food hogs.
EMRO lalster / YouTube
Beyond making sure her babies were fed, this mama cat made sure they had a regular playmate. Della would play gently with the ducks in a way that didn’t show even the smallest hint of aggression.
EMRO lalster / YouTube
Emma and Ronan soon realized that this wasn’t going to be a typical duck and cat relationship. You just wouldn’t see this kind of embrace between two creatures that had anything but love for each other!
Eventually, the ducks grew big—far larger than Della’s kittens—and the mama cat had a hard time controlling and caring for them. But even as growing, independent adults, the ducks couldn’t get enough of their feline mother!
LFC 1892 / YouTube

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