Duck Who Can't Swim Is So Proud To Show Off Her Giant Floatie
"I think she finally felt like she could be part of her family again" 💗
Keeper was found abandoned in a Walmart parking lot, wandering around confused and alone. The parking lot wasn’t near any water, so it’s very likely that someone dumped her there. Luckily, a concerned woman noticed Keeper and contacted Alyssa’s Animal Sanctuary to see if they could help.
“She is a Pekin duck so she can’t fly, so to be hanging around a place where there is no water nearby is weird for a duck to start but then this woman noticed she was staying up near the doors, near where people were at, like she wanted someone to help her, and when she noticed she had difficulty walking and had a bad limp, that's when she decided to call us,” Alyssa Barry, founder of Alyssa’s Animal Sanctuary, told The Dodo.
The sanctuary took Keeper in and discovered that she’s pigeon-toed, a disability that may have led to her being abandoned. As they worked on getting Keeper settled in with the other ducks at the sanctuary, they quickly realized she had another issue that greatly affected her.
“We noticed right away that she had trouble swimming,” Barry told The Dodo. “When her feathers got wet the water did not bead off of her like it should have, but instead the water soaked her and she would become waterlogged. So her ability to float and stay above water became difficult for her, and then when she would paddle her feet, her feet would hit each other, and she would immediately start showing signs of stress, so we would pull her out of the water, and just sort of quickly learned that she wouldn’t be able to use our big pool.”
After a little research, Barry realized that Keeper was born without a preen gland, which produces oils that make ducks waterproof. Her missing gland on top of her pigeon-toed feet meant that Keeper wouldn’t be able to swim and hang out in the water with the other ducks, as she could end up drowning, and Barry could tell that not being able to be near her new family for most of the day made Keeper sad right from the start.
“She of course has a kiddie pool that she can get into anytime and stand in, but ducks like to stay with their paddlings (their group/family), so every day I would watch as her family would go up into the pool and she would sit at the bottom of the ramp by herself until they came back down,” Barry said. “It made me sad to watch her sit alone at the bottom of the ramp while her family played in their pool all day, and just wait for them to come back down out of the pool.”
Barry wanted to come up with a way to allow Keeper to safely be near her family all day but was at a loss for how to accomplish that — until one day, she was walking through Walmart and spotted a giant floatie shaped like a duck.
Barry had no idea if the floatie would work out or not, but she decided it was worth a try. She brought it back to the sanctuary and tried to teach Keeper how to use it, and after a little trial and error, the little duck became a pro.
“She learned very quickly that she could balance perfectly fine on it, and she WANTED to be on it,” Barry said. “It only took her a few minutes to realize that now she was in the pool with her family and she was perfectly content and sat there all day long. It just sort of became this daily thing, where we would pick her up and put her on her float and she loved it. I think she finally felt like she could be part of her family again.”
Keeper had been so sad watching her family go off to the pool every day and not being able to join them, and she loves that she now has a way to be with them without having to actually get in the water. She’s very content riding around on her floatie all day, keeping a close eye on her family as she glides around, and she’s essentially become the queen of the duck pond.
Even though the floatie is a little big, it doesn’t bother the other ducks at all. They like having Keeper around, and totally respect her and her floating throne.
“The other ducks have not tried to get on her floatie at all, or even bother her when she’s on it,” Barry said. “She just lounges on it all day and it just sort of blows around the pool in the breeze and it works perfectly!”
Even though Keeper herself isn’t exactly water safe, her family at the sanctuary made sure there was a plan in place in case she ever fell in the pool and someone wasn’t around to help her. There’s an underwater ledge that extends out from the ramp into the pool, so if Keeper accidentally loses her balance and falls in, she can get herself safely to the ledge and then use it to jump back onto her floatie. It’s all been working out really well, but of course, the sanctuary is always trying to come up with ways to make her life even easier.
“We are working on expanding the ledge to go across the whole length of the pool, and make the pool even more accessible for her, but her duck floatie has been life-changing for her,” Barry said.
Keeper may be a little different from the other ducks, but thanks to her duck floatie, she can do everything that they do — she just does it with a little more style.