Ducks and geese are used extensively for their flesh, foie gras (livers), and their feathers. More than 31 million ducks are killed each year for their flesh. Ducks are outgoing, social animals who enjoy swimming, foraging, and travel long distances for migration. Geese are loyal and mate for life, mourning when a loved one dies. On factory farms, these ducks and geese never have the opportunity to experience natural behaviors.
Lucky the Pilgrim Goose certainly lives up to his name. When hatched, Lucky was stillborn, but several days later was found alive in the trash! He was taken in by a kind family and learned to enjoy being cradled like a baby and going on long walks alongside his humans. When Lucky’s human family had to downsize, they no longer had a pond for him, so Lucky found a new home at Charlie’s Acres. Lucky now spends his days hanging out with his goose and duck friends, and is quick to alert when a stranger is nearby.
Doris & Delilah
Doris and Delilah are Pekin duck sisters who were spotted all alone in a pond in South Bay, at an age where they shouldn’t have been without their mother at all and were being harassed by wild ducks. Pekins are a domestic breed typically raised as pets or for meat, so they may not have survived on their own in the wild. It is common for people to buy ducklings for children around Easter time, not realizing the level of commitment required to take proper care of them, and so they are all too often abandoned after just a few weeks. These two are incredibly bonded, so much so that when Delilah was temporarily away in our medical barn with an injured leg, Doris faked a limp so that she could be brought to her sister.
Mathilda is a Chinese Crested Goose who was found near a public pond, unable to walk. She was rescued by a local wildlife group and brought to Charlie’s Acres where we could get her the veterinary care she clearly needed. Vets estimated Mathilda to be 15 years old when she arrived and explained that she had a neurological condition preventing her from walking, but the exact cause was unknown. Thanks to a combination of conventional and holistic medicine, and lots of attention and physical therapy, Mathilda has gone from not being able to walk at all, to living a full life out at the sanctuary pond with plenty of friends. She’s naturally protective of all small animals and absolutely loves swimming.
Eleanor was found wandering around in Eureka Canyon in Watsonville and taken to Santa Cruz County Animal Control. Since she is a domestic goose, her chances of survival in the wild were pretty low. She sat in the animal shelter for over a month and no one claimed her or wanted to adopt her. We took her in at the last moment as she was about to be euthanized the next day. Farm animals, like dogs and cats, often have a time limit at shelters before they are euthanized due to space. Eleanor is a Toulouse goose, a breed often used in the cruel foie gras industry. At the sanctuary, Eleanor spends her days guarding her smaller duck friends and is quick to intervene if anyone gets too rowdy.
- Ducks have regional accents! Scientists have found that city-dwelling ducks have more of a “shouting” quack so that other birds can hear them above the hustle and bustle, while country ducks have softer voices.
- Geese often refuse to leave the side of a sick or injured mate or chick, even if winter is approaching and the other geese in the group are migrating south.
- Some duck species migrate hundreds of miles each year and can fly in formation at speeds up to 60mph!
- Geese mourn their mates when they die, and some spend the rest of their lives as widows or widowers, refusing to mate again.
Ducks and geese can make wonderful additions to your family, but they are not “housepets”; you can’t potty-train a duck (though you can buy a duck diaper so that they can visit you indoors), so you’ll need plenty of outdoor space that they can call home. These birds are smart, playful, curious, full of personality, and will be sure to keep you entertained!