Art Knapp Plantland on King George Boulevard has some extra help this year for coping with the Christmas rush.
The latest addition to the staff at the South Surrey nursery may not be able to answer many questions, but he's doing a terrific job of making customers feel welcome.
His name is Duck-duck and he's a six-month-old Golden 300 duck who has won over staff and customers alike in recent months. While a deformed foot slows him somewhat, his outsized personality keeps kids giggling, parents amused and the Art Knapp staff members shaking their heads in amazement.
"He's got an incredible personality," said Shawneen Esson, an assistant manager and main duck wrangler at the nursery.
"I hatched him out personally myself and within a week I could see he had a very unique personality. He didn't want to be by himself and he liked to follow us around.
"He's a really unique duck in that he has no interest in the other ducks at all. He loves people - especially women and kids - and he likes to follow families through the nursery. He still sometimes keeps a two-inch distance from people, but if he likes you, he'll let you pet him. He's kind of aloof - almost like a cat."
Esson said that when Duck-duck was hatched, he came into this world with a condition called "splayed leg," where one leg is distorted and skews inward. The condition made it hard for Duck-duck to stand at first, so Esson and other staff members helped him out by carrying him around in their aprons as they went about their duties. Within a week or so, two things became clear: one, Duck-duck was indeed a unique bird and, two, he was more interested in spending time with humans than other ducks.
As he grew older and gained strength, he continued to follow staff members around the nursery and began following customers too.
"Duck-duck's great for business," Esson said. "This guy is unique and kids love him. He follows people around the store and kids run in to see him. He even helps people shop by picking out bulbs or Christmas trees. It's quite hilarious to watch - it's just what he does. I've seen him spend an hour just following an elderly lady around, spending time with her while she shops. He has the run of the place - just not on the carpeted areas."
Esson added Duck-duck has even chalked up a hot tub sale to his credit by distracting the kids while their parents consulted with a salesperson.
Art Knapp Plantland hatches hundreds of ducks and other garden fowl each year and, while inquisitive birds are not unusual, Duck-duck's charming persona ensures he'll be wandering around the potted plants and seed packets for years to come.
"He's not for sale, no way," Esson said. "These ducks can live for 15 years and hopefully he's around for that long. He's spoiled rotten, he loves his Cheerios and every person on staff absolutely loves him. If it ever comes time to retire him then he'll come to my house." firstname.lastname@example.org
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