Earlier this week, a dog was seen adopting a group of ducklings that it had found wandering alone. A 10-year old Labrador named Fred became the official guardian of nine ducklings after the staff of the Mountfitchet Castle in Essex found them wandering the grounds together. It seems that the ducks had imprinted on the dog and now thinks that it is their mother.
“Fred the resident dog at the Castle stepped up to the challenge when nine little ducklings became orphaned last Thursday,” Mountfitchet Castle wrote on their official Facebook page. “The ducklings’ mum had disappeared and a member of staff found them waddling around the castle grounds alone. The team were very worried about the ducklings but Fred, a 10 year old Labrador, immediately took to them and has been babysitting ever since.”
The Moutfitchet Castle also posted a video of Fred and his ducklings looking very content wandering around the castle grounds. It seems that the ducks had imprinted on the dog. Imprinting happens when very young animals follow around a parental figure. This often happens after hatching see their mother for the first time, but it has also been documented happening to other animals that they see, even humans. In fact, there is even a characteristic called the “baby duck syndrome” based on this behavior, where people imprint on the first person they meet.
The duck at Essex will be following the dog around for the next few weeks. When the ducks mature and age, they will have to travel for warmer climates, which they will hopefully have the instinct for come winter.