This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.
There are 1,624 humans living on the Pacific island of Niue, but there is only one duck. He is, more specifically, a mallard, and named after a New Zealand politician by the name of Trevor Mallard.
New Zealand is the closest country where mallards are known to breed, but it’s 2,400 kilometers [1,490 miles] from Niue, so nobody really knows how Trevor got there. A lot of people seem to think he flew from New Zealand or maybe Australia, while others have argued that no, that’s way too far. Another theory suggests that Trevor stowed away on a boat, possibly a yacht, and sprinted off into the Niuean wilderness once the vessel made landfall.
Whatever the case, it looks like Trevor is there to stay. He’s even become somewhat of a national celebrity, owing to the fact that there’s nothing else like him on the island.
“We have whales and dolphins; we have a lot of things in the water, but not land animals,” said Felicity Bollen, chief executive officer of Niue Tourism. “There are dogs, but we don’t have anything else. We don’t have sheep, we don’t have horses, and we don’t have cows. So for a duck to be wandering around the island, that’s why it’s so interesting.”
Not only is there a depressing lack of land animals on Niue, however, there’s also a severe shortage of wetlands and ponds—meaning Trev’s had to make-do with a puddle near the airport for his home. The Guardian reports that people have been taking buckets of water to refill the puddle, and the island’s fire service has been conducting regular refills to make sure it doesn’t go dry. Locals have also started bringing Trevor daily offerings of baguettes, peas, corn, rice, and the occasional dish of bok choy. He is fast approaching God-like status.
"Everybody knows about the duck," said local resident Randall Haines. "We drive into town every few days and you can't help yourself. You just sort of look over and see if it's still in the puddle, and it is.”
Randall told the ABC that Trevor “seems quite happy, although it doesn’t have many friends.”
And that’s what’s got some people worried. What kind of life is this for a duck? Is Trevor lonely—and if so, what can be done to make him less lonely?
So serious is this concern that the Niuean department for agriculture, forestry and fisheries is considering a raft of options to alleviate Trevor’s social isolation, including the possibility of bringing in a companion duck or, at the very least, getting some wooden decoys to keep him company.
"It's got no friends and ducks prefer to have friends," said Deputy political editor of the NZ Herald Claire Trevett, who first came across Niue’s celebrity duck while vacationing there recently. "A rooster has also discovered it and realized it's being fed and now the rooster has started bullying the duck and chasing it around everywhere."
While many of the island’s residents are fretting over ways to look after their duck and satiate his various appetites, however, others insist that Trevor is quite capable of taking care of himself.
“If he’s come to Niue to make it his home, whether that’s temporary or permanent, we should just let him be [and] provide him with clean water,” said Bollen. “If he wants to stay, that should be up to Trevor the duck. No one should interfere in that process.”
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