It was a screeching sound heard around the world.
On the afternoon of June 5, 1995, an unfortunate male mallard met an untimely end after flying into the newly inaugurated glass façade of Rotterdam’s Natural History Museum.
While the duck’s death was not notable – billions of birds Every year around the world he dies flying into windows and other reflective glass surfaces – what happened next guaranteed his place in the history books: seconds after his corpse fell to the ground, another male duck appeared, deceased. Waterfowl climbed on and proceeded to have sex with her for an impressive 75 minutes.
The entire episode was observed by biologist Kees Mollicker, who quickly realized that he was witnessing a unique phenomenon: the first documented case of homosexual necrophilia in a mallard.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Molicker, who currently serves as the museum’s director. “Ducks are notoriously aggressive when breeding and rape It’s part of their strategy, but the fact that it happened between a living and a dead person was brand new.
But the story of the dead duck doesn’t end with Molicker’s paper.
Back in 1995 biologists stuffed and added the finished bird to the museum’s private collection, but – when visitors began demanding to see the duck – the mallard was put on public display alongside its more eye-catching counterparts, polar bears Went. and sharks.
The duck is now the permanent head of the museum dead animal stories Exhibits, including a hedgehog that was fatally stuck in a McDonald’s McFlurry Cup and a stone marten Shut down the CERN particle accelerator In November 2016.
“There’s humor in these cases, but it’s also a lesson in how humans interact with the environment,” Moliker said. “If we didn’t make glass buildings and if we didn’t have as much garbage, many of these animals would probably still be alive.”
Beyond the museum, the duck tale has inspired cultural works such as composer Daniel Gillingwater’s 2014 masterpiece, The Homo Necrophilic Duck Opera and, of course, the annual dead duck day celebrations, which are now in their 28th year.
“At exactly 5:55 p.m. we will assemble in front of the spot where the duck’s body fell and after a moment’s silence to remember the duck’s tragic death, we will share insights about remarkable animal behavior and the global problem Will raise awareness about birds and windows,” he said.
Moliker stressed that “although people love shiny buildings,” it was important to think about the animal world and choose architectural options that would reduce the number of bird collisions.
“An easier solution is to build with bricks, not glass, but builders can also invest in glass with an ultraviolet coating that is visible to birds and will make it clear they can’t fly,” he said.
The biologist said that although he drank beer with a colleague on the first Dead Duck Day, on some occasions up to 50 people attended the festivities.
This year’s commemoration of the death will kick off, as usual, with a six-course duck meal at a local Cantonese restaurant. Despite the event’s morbid overtones, feast attendees are prepared to leave wagging their tail feathers with delight.