Vol 5 No. 51 - September 7, 2005
Duck tale full of drama, happy endings
SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY
Gertie and Robbie, too, share a get-acquainted bowl
of water after the male Peking duck was brought to
Anna Maria from Ocala to keep Gertie company.
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA It isn't often that a story about
a hit and run accident has a happy ending, but this story
is the exception.
It didn't start out that way. Someone struck and killed
a Peking duck on Pine Avenue last week right under
a duck crossing sign.
"It was terrible," said Gary Thorpe, one of
the city's public works employees. "Whoever it was
didn't even stop. They just kept going. You have to wonder
Thorpe said there has been a pair of large white ducks
living in the Lake LaVista inlet as long as he's been
working at the city, which is a little over five years.
"They are always together," he said. "They
swim in the canal and in Lake LaVista. They cross Pine
Avenue to get seeds from some of the trees. I think they
mate for life. I named them after my parents, Gertie and
Thorpe picked up the dead duck and buried it near Belle
"That's one of the places those ducks went every
day. The other one was quacking something terrible,"
he said. "I think it missed the other one. If a duck
can make a sad quack, this one was making it."
Public Works Director George McKay said his department
erected two duck crossing signs where the ducks go across
"I was afraid something like this might happen,"
he said. "That's why we put the signs up. They go
really fast along here. The speed limit's 25 miles an
hour, but they go much faster."
Apparently it's not illegal to do a hit and run accident
if the victim is a duck.
"There are no laws for that, to my knowledge,"
said Manatee County Sheriff's Sgt. John Kenney, who heads
up law enforcement in the city. "As long as there
was nothing deliberate about hitting the duck. If there
was, then you'd have animal cruelty charges."
Meanwhile, Thorpe, a self-professed animal lover, couldn't
get the surviving duck out of his thoughts. He logged
onto the Internet and learned that the canal is home to
a pair of Peking ducks.
"They raise them in China for their meat," he
Then he called a friend of his in Massachusetts who raises
chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys to do some more research.
"He told me that the males have a couple of extra
curly feathers on their tails," he said. "So
the one that was killed was the male. It's the female
who is crying and lonely."
Thorpe didn't stop there. He continued his research and
found a farm in Ocala that raises and sells ducks. Saturday
morning, he and his wife, Ann Marie who works in city
hall, took off for Ocala with a borrowed dog crate to
pick out a friend for Gertie.
"There were ducks everywhere and they weren't in
the best condition," Thorpe said. "But I saw
one particular one right from the beginning. He was bigger
than the rest."
Ann Marie confirmed that.
"He told me to watch that one right from the beginning,"
he said. "He told me about the tail curling up in
the back. (You can sure tell where that haircut got its
The Thorpes said the farmer grabbed the duck they wanted,
put it in the crate and then they began the two-and-a-half
hour return trip to the Island.
When they got back to the Island, they released the duck,
now known as "Robbie, too." Gertie came waddling
over and the two checked each other out.
Gertie took Robbie, too, over to the water bowl that some
Pine Avenue residents keep in their back yard. She took
a drink. He took a drink. It looked like all was bliss
and love at first sight.
All of a sudden, Robbie, too, attacked Gertie. She defended
herself. The quacking was deafening. Feathers were flying.
"Stop it! Quit it!" Ann Marie said, stamping
her feet and herding Robbie into the water. He plopped
off the bank and began gliding around in the canal looking
like a post card.
Gertie soon joined him and the two swam peacefully around
"He didn't have a pond or even a pool where he came
from," Thorpe said. "You happy, fellow? You
happy, Gertie?" he asked with a huge smile.
As if on cue, the pair began quacking away and at last
report appeared to be getting along nicely.
Go back to Index September 7
Go back to Index archives
us | News
Island | Subscription
Store | Classified