My efforts to help Trevor the Duck come to naught

THIS DUCK NEWS JUST IN: After an absence of two full days, Honey and James have returned to the pond. It’s cold and rainy, but I fed them anyway. To add to the drama, one of our office staff reported that earlier this morning there were two drakes in the pond, and one of them chased the other away. The chaser was undoubtedly James going after a would-be suitor of Honey, for James and Honey are together right now in the pond; and there is no sign of any other duck.

On to the story at hand. A while back I published the sad tale of Trevor, a lone and lonely mallard drake who had somehow landed himself on the small island of Niue, a self-governing state affiliated with New Zealand. There were no other ducks there, and no standing water, either. Trevor found himself a small and temporary puddle, but the locals took pity on him, giving him food and topping up his puddle. Even the local fire department pitched in by adding water to the temporary pond. Still, Trevor (named after Trevor Mallard, the real name of New Zealand’s speaker of the House of Representatives) became somewhat of a celebrity, even getting his own Facebook page. Here’s the World’s Loneliest Duck:

Photo: NZ Herald/Claire Trevett

I brought this situation to the attention of Kiwi Heather Hastie, and told her I’d be willing to pay the expenses to relocate Trevor to either of New Zealand’s big islands so he could have permanent water and maybe find a mate. Heather was kind enough to write about this to both Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, and to the Minister of Primary Industries (MPI), the person in charge of animal welfare. Ardern, who was in the U.S., sent a “you’ll hear from us later” reply, but the MPI’s agency wrote back. The news is not good, but at least they cared enough to write to Heather. Here’s their letter:

Dear Heather,

As you know, New Zealand has strict controls on what’s imported into the country, to protect our environment, flora, fauna, and human health. Under the Biosecurity Act 1993, an import health standard (IHS) is required for importation into New Zealand of any biosecurity risk goods such as live animals, and at this time we do not have an IHS that covers live ducks. Unfortunately this means that we are currently unable to allow Trevor to be imported into New Zealand.

Kind regards,

Janessa Brown DVM, BSc (Hons)| Senior Adviser, Animal Imports
Animal Health & Welfare Directorate | Regulation and Assurance Branch
Ministry for Primary Industries | Pastoral House 25 The Terrace | PO Box 2526 | Wellington | New Zealand

I of course respect the biological integrity of New Zealand, but I still hope there’s another solution to Trevor’s plight.


  1. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 5, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    What’s the masculine for “yenta” as in “katshke yenta”?

  2. Posted October 5, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    If he got to New Zealand under his own steam, that would not count though… ?

    Barn Owls recently bred in New Zealand for the first time

    • Posted October 5, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      They are already found there after all… though not native.

  3. Posted October 5, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I know you are just kidding about relocating ducks to Down Under but it has me wondering. How well do ducks do when they are radically relocated? Do they attempt to fly back to their original home? Do they find a new place to migrate each season? Is it considered animal cruelty to do such a relocation?

    • Posted October 5, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I wasn’t kidding. Had they been willing to relocate Trevor, I would have footed the bill (excuse the pun).

      • Posted October 5, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        You never cease to amaze me, Jerry!

        What the locals can do, if they’re up to it, is build a permanent pond using a heavy-duty rubber pond liner and stock it with aquatic plants. There could be a little island in the middle built from stacked rocks or bricks and a nice log for resting.

        • Posted October 5, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps there’s a breed of local ducks that could provide companionship?

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted October 5, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

            There are no ducks on Niue. The only fresh water comes from the rain. They’re coming into the dry season, so water for Trevor is a problem.

  4. Liz
    Posted October 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    “‘Under the Biosecurity Act 1993, an import health standard (IHS) is required for importation into New Zealand of any biosecurity risk goods such as live animals, and at this time we do not have an IHS that covers live ducks.'”

    Maybe they can export a duck so that Trevor has a friend there.

    • Posted October 5, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Great idea, but they’d need a more permanent pond along the lines sketched by a commenter above.

  5. Diane G
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Possibly a young adult that made a wrong turn? Given that it’s just starting to be spring down there, perhaps he’ll stick around for a while, hoping for a female to show up, but give up after the mating season and self-export to more fortuitous climes.

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