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NYC's new thirst trap is the mystery Central Park Mandarin duck - Metro US

NYC’s new thirst trap is the mystery Central Park Mandarin duck

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The Central Park duck is NYC's hottest new celebrity, appearing mysteriously in the park in October.
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Last weekend was particularly beautiful in New York City, and everyone was outside — lurking like paparazzi around a pond, hoping to get a glimpse of NYC’s hottest new celebrity: the Central Park Mandarin duck.

People have gone crazy for this duck. Real, total, no chill B-A-N-A-N-A-S:

All the actual human celebrities in town must be loving it because everyone with a telephoto lens is stationed around the Central Park Pond:

He even looks good in a pose that would make the rest of us look totally undignified:

There were doubts at first, of course. How often does anything really live up to the hype? But New Yorkers’ famous cool, built up through decades of Robert De Niro movies, has been totally shattered by one fancy duck.

Why is the Central Park Mandarin duck such a big deal?

Uh, have you looked at this creature described by the city’s paper of record the New York Times as “dazzling”?

North America has dozens of ducks, but this guy isn’t from the neighborhood. Central Park’s newest resident is a Mandarin duck, native to East Asia and not found in the wild in the Americas.

The ingenue first appeared mysteriously on Oct. 10, stunning birders at the Central Park Pond (59th Street and Fifth Avenue, on the southeast side of the park). Here’s the viral tweet that started it all from David Barrett, founder of Manhattan Bird Alert:

The duck disappeared for a while after that, and wasn’t spotted again in the park until Oct. 28, swimming among the mallards in Central Park Pond. And this weekend’s gorgeous, clear weather made the Mandarin duck the must-have snap on everyone’s Instagram:

Look at all that fanciness. The colors! The fancy wind accessories! That swooping mohawk! Maybe this duck will teach us that it’s fine to wear a little color during winter.

Where to find the Central Park duck

There’s a band on its leg, but the city’s zoos and aquarium aren’t missing any of their residents, according to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. “It is likely that this duck escaped captivity or was released,” says John McCoy, deputy director of the Urban Park Rangers, who lead wildlife tours, hikes and campouts in the city. “Unfortunately, it’s not totally uncommon for people to release pets into a park when they can no longer care for them. This is both against Park rules and bad for the animal.”

Happily though, the Central Park duck seems to be doing just fine: “The Mandarin duck is healthy and happily mingling with the mallards of Central Park. While it’s exciting to spot such a rare bird in NYC’s backyard, like every other celebrity sighting, New Yorkers should know to give him space and not to disturb him.”

That includes not feeding him pretzels or bread, which is bad for any duck. They’re keeping an eye on him as the weather gets colder, but unless he’s injured, they’re letting him enjoy his celebrity.

If you want to spot the Central Park Mandarin duck, he’s most commonly been spotted on the Central Park Pond, but has also dabbled in the Turtle Pond at 79th Street in the middle of the park, the Hudson River boat basin and even (gasp) New Jersey.

Want to help all birds in New York City? Within the five boroughs, the Wild Bird Fund is the only organization that rehabilitates injured birds. The National Audubon Society also works to protect birds in the city and beyond — check out the dozens of bird murals they’re commissioning by local artists in Harlem, home of the organization’s namesake ornithologist John James Audubon.

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