Ducks are Individuals, Each and Every One

You come out of your shell, out of that warm wet world of semi-darkness, into the bright lights--or into an incubator drawer--when, normally, you would emerge and hear the heartbeat in your mother's downy breast in a nest she'd built for the occasion of your birth. It would have been springtime if you'd been hatched naturally, instead of at some factory. Your mother would have uttered sweet vocalizations and her voice would have guided you onto your feet. She would have oiled you with her oil gland and perhaps you'd have been floating waterproof behind her that very same day, instead of being poked and prodded and thrown into crates and boxes, crying for a mother you will never see.

You will never know who your mother is. You are an orphan and a product of humankind. A creation. But you don't know that. You definitely didn't ask for it to be this way. Instead you are thrown into this world, your tiny heart formed and nurtured by your absent mother's egg yolk and the constant temperature of the incubator. I wonder how scared you are when you begin to hatch, or even before you hatch, when you peep from inside the egg, but there is no answer. What does that fear do to you? And the anxiety you feel when you are calling out in the incubator, not yet dry, cheeping for her presence, but hearing only the desperate cries of hundreds, if not thousands--the echo of your own terrified voice chiming on and on for the first few days of your life as you are shuffled through a noisy factory, put on trucks, airplanes, dropped, exposed to drafts, perhaps crowded with one hundred or two hundred other ducklings, some dead beneath you--how much do you suffer?

When the box finally opens you are exposed, once more, to bright artificial lights and maybe placed in a pen or cage. If this pen is on the floor of a pet store, you will be bombarded with the shrieks of beasts, all of them coming and going all day long, some of them tapping and banging, and sometimes the lid comes off and something menacing appears from above and chases you as you scream. Where is your mother? What is happening?

These aliens have devised a method of creating you without your mother's permission. It is unnatural for you, this experience, but you are the one who suffers, little duck. Those silenced cheeps you utter go unheard because many humans do not listen closely. Some people want you because you are cute and then they forget about you. Little kids might torture you, carry you around until you starve or suffocate. Or maybe you choke on your food because your new owner doesn't know that you have to have water with your food, or food becomes lodged in your airways. Or you are left in a tub of water (because ducks love water, right?) and because you haven't been oiled by your mother you become waterlogged and then, finally exhausted, and drown. When you cry no one answers. It could happen to you, duckling. I wish it didn't have to be this way.

And there are thousands of ducks out there, big and small. Some can fly and join the wild or settle around local ponds. Some are picked off one by one by hawks or coyotes or coons. Some are given free reign until one day someone comes with an axe or a shot rings out and they drop from the sky, their wings flap helplessly as they fall to earth.

But not you, my ducklings. I cannot take you all, but I took you. I cannot take you all. But for you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you, I can do something. You will be fed. You will be warm. I will listen.