A video featuring a group of ducklings is making waves across the internet (excuse the pun).
The short clip shows a group of baby ducks, not old enough to fend for themselves yet, following a man hiking along a hill in Seoul, South Korea.
Whilst it might seem pretty freakin’ odd at first, this man’s feathered friends are actually mirroring his every move completely intentionally .
“Why?” you might ask, well…
This middle-aged man hasn’t simply picked up a few intrigued birds on his way through the South Korean landscape, he is in fact playing the role of their mother!
Again you might ask “WHY?!”… but it’s not as strange as it sounds. He’s a ‘Certified Father of Ducklings’ (bet you didn’t know that was a thing!). And so, not only does he take them for walks, he hand-rears them from birth as a sort-of cross-species foster parent.
“I’ve been hiking with them every morning” he says.
Worried whether they would be able to survive on their own, he began taking the cute creatures into the wild in order to build their strength and enable them to adapt to the harshly different conditions of the outdoors.
In case you were wondering, there are 21 ducklings that make up this group in total and since this Korean man raises them as if they were his own children, they listen to his every call intently.
In fact, they’re so loyal to him that they only respond to his voice and no others. Even if somebody else were to call them, they would simply refuse to move. Basically the duck version of flipping someone off…
This sort of behaviour isn’t unusual when it comes to creatures of this kind. Birds are not immediately aware of what they are when they hatch and so they visually ‘imprint’ on their parents (or whoever happens to be their main carers at the time). Having imprinted on their mother (in this case a human), they will identify with that species for life. That’s it, no changes, no swapping about, he’s their mother and that’s that!
It can be kind of hard to get your head around, I mean it’s like us being born and thinking that the family cat is our mentor and protector based on it just so happening to be the first animal we spend a prolonged period of time with. But you never know… it could happen.
For birds, imprinting is absolutely vital. It plays a big factor in their short and long-term development and ultimately; their survival. So whilst it might seem pretty funny that this guy gets followed around day and night by a bunch of small birds, he’s actually playing a really crucial role in their chances of living long and healthy lives. Still, you’re allowed to laugh and think it’s the cutest thing you’ve seen in a long time all the same…
The ducklings currently live out their days trekking back and forth between the mans house and the wild and seem pretty content in doing so. It looks as if they’re well taken care of after all!
That bond is strong and he looks as if he’s got companions for life, which gives us a nice warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Ahhhh…
What do you make of this slightly less-conventional parent-child relationship?