On Jan. 27, a day that will live in infamy at Ohio State, students learned that the beloved resident of Mirror Lake, Afroduck, had been found dead.
In the past 26 days, the OSU community began the healing process. The rubber ducks set out in remembrance were soon disposed of, and the roses laid out were swept away. Alas, Mirror Lake still had a vacant spot. That is, until Monday morning.
As dawn broke over Mirror Lake on Monday, a familiar tuft of feathers floated across the water, seemingly indifferent to the distress its previous absence had caused.
Word of Afroduck’s “resurrection” spread. Social media was flooded with student reactions, some questioning whether this was a new duck or if the beloved original had risen from the dead.
Katy Scruppi, a third-year in political science, was one student who posted about the duck on social media.
“Afro Duck suffered, died, and was buried. On the 7th week of the semester, he rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures,” read Scruppi’s tweet.
Afroduck’s death has been confirmed, with the body currently in the care of a taxidermist in Lima, Ohio, said Chelsea Hothem, a research assistant at the OSU’s Museum of Biological Diversity, in an email.
The new duck most likely appeared as a result of someone purchasing a duck and placing it in the lake, Hothem, a third-year in evolution, ecology and organismal biology, who retrieved the original Afroduck’s body for the museum, said.
Hothem said that this particular type of duck is not found in the wild and said placing a domestic duck in a new environment can have ramifications.
“While I understand that we all loved Afroduck and we want to have another one, it probably wasn’t a good idea to release a domestic duck into the lake,” she said. “That is a lot like letting your unwanted pet rabbit or turtle go free in the woods. Domestic animals typically don’t have the skills they need to survive in the wild since they were raised by humans.”
Hothem followed up by providing some information on how to better care for the new Afroduck, seeing as the last one was found to be severely emaciated upon examination by the taxidermist.
“I have read that oats, corn or peas are better healthy alternatives (than white bread) to feed ducks,” she said. “Since there are so many students passing Mirror Lake, it is probably inevitable that they get fed less than optimal foods, but I think we should all try and take care of our beloved ducks as much as possible.”
Students gathered to mourn the fallen Afroduck back in January.
“Our community lost a hero. Someone who floated tall against tyranny and communism with the extraordinary power to brighten anyone’s day. A visionary. A leader of a generation,” read the description of the Afroduck Remembrance Ceremony, an event created via Facebook to commemorate the icon. According to the page, 3,200 people RSVP’d to the ceremony.
Afroduck’s final resting place, upon completion of the taxidermy process, will be at the Ohio State Museum of Biological Diversity and will be available for viewing at the annual open house on April 23.
Hothem helped to raise the funds necessary to immortalize Afroduck through taxidermy with a GoFundMe page that raised $1,000, double the initial goal of $500. The museum has since been tweeting updates on Afroduck as its body undergoes the taxidermy process. These updates can be viewed on its account @osum-tetrapods.
Despite the evidence to the contrary, some individuals still believe that Afroduck has returned from the dead.
Alexandra Goss, a first-year in global politics, said she is a believer.
“The stone was rolled away from Afroduck’s grave, and the new Afroduck emerged into the sunlight, more radiant than ever,” Goss said.
Pavan Peketi, a second-year in neuroscience, shared his own theory about the new duck that appeared on the lake.
“I think new Afroduck is actually Afroduck’s evil twin brother who murdered Afroduck in order to take his place at Mirror Lake to instill a new world order,” Peketi said.