Duck, duck…on the loose?


Emma Iswarienko

Junior Elle Rotter’s collection of five ducks sits lined up on a table. Rotter felt joyful finally finding a duck for herself. “I remember all day [when the ducks were first put out] looking for them in the hallways, library and at lunch,” Rotter said. “A lot of my friends found one before me but I finally found one in the library the next day. I instantly felt so happy. I remember [also] feeling dumb for being so happy and proud, but I quickly shrugged that feeling off and have since enjoyed keeping my eye out for the ducks around the school.”

Sophomore Kat Fitzanko walks through the halls carrying a heavy backpack. All of a sudden, she spots a small, yellow object perched up high on a windowsill. A smile dawns across her face as she realizes what it is: a tiny duck figurine.

This trend of hiding ducks began when juniors Gabi Badami and Maria Lung saw pet ducks appearing on social media and wanted one of their own.

“[The ducks are distributed] by [my friend] Gabi and I. My friends would send me TikToks whenever I was sad to cheer me up and [that’s when I discovered] I wanted one” Lung said. “Out of all of our friends, my parents would probably be the ones to get me [one].”

However, Lung’s parents quickly shot down that idea for multiple reasons, including the fact that their family already owns two cats. While Lung had solutions to this problem, like giving the duck a separate room and a hamster ball to run around in, her parents were not so easily swayed.

“My uncle was in town from Florida and he was like, ‘Maria, how about I get you a duck?’ My parents were like, ‘Stop. Don’t do that,’ so he bought me 100 little plastic ducks instead,” Lung said. “I first put [the ducks] throughout my house and my parents were not having it. So [I asked myself] what am I going to do with these 100 ducks? I hid them around my friends’ house at Friendsgiving [and then I decided] to hand them out to some people and hide them [around the school] together.”

What started as a way to rid themselves of the plastic figurines soon blossomed into a way for the girls to spread joy around the school. Students can now be seen carrying around the tiny figurines and looking high and low for their chance to find one.

“[If] you just find a duck, you’re going to laugh or smile. Cute things like babies laughing or ducks are medically proven to release serotonin in your brain and make you happier,” Lung said. “I just wanted to spread that joy to others that I felt seeing the ducks.”

Sophomore Kat Fitzanko sits in the library, a duck perched on the arm of her chair. Fitzanko recalls finding her first duck as an “adorable surprise”. (Katie Wallace)

Badami, Lung and other students have now been hiding the ducks for over a month and went from the initial 100 ducks they hid to buying and hiding 1000 more ducks. The figurines have also spread to Parkway Central High School and other spots around St. Louis, such as the mall and Target. Badami and Lung said their primary purpose is still to make people smile.

“It’s a fun way to make people happy and it’s fun to watch people try to find [the ducks],” Badami said. “They just kind of started going everywhere. I [even] currently have one in my water bottle inside the water. We were talking in my Ac Lab, and it was about the ducks. Trotier was like, ‘wait there’s ducks around the school?’ It just became this whole thing. They’re so adorable.”

As far as getting a real duck, Lung’s parents are still hesitant, but she’s researching nonetheless. She has even brainstormed some name ideas, including “Pete” and “Yellow.” 

For now, the girls have to settle with continuing to watch duck videos and imagining what activities they could do with a duck.

“[I could] take pictures with [a duck] or bring it to [hangout] with my friends,” Lung said. “[I could also] walk the duck like a dog. Can you imagine me walking around the duck? You would laugh so hard if you saw someone walking a duck down the street on a leash.”

In regards to the future, Lung and Badami hope to spread more happiness and, eventually, convince Lung’s parents that getting a duck would be beneficial. Lung hopes that the ducks will continue being uncovered for years to come.

“I’m hoping that all of the ducks stay in school. I’m imagining coming back to school 50 years from now and still finding them,” Lung said. “That would be so cool because it’s a generational thing of continuing to bring happiness to the [future students].”