For the last 15 years, bikers, pedestrians and dog-walkers would pass by the white Muscovy duck who lived by the lagoon off of Robert Davey Jr. Way. Surrounded by hordes of coots and raucous mallards, Mr. Willie stood out from the other birds for his size, bright white feathers and dignity. While others squabbled over illegal handouts from the stroller brigade, this duck would stand back and wait his turn.
Now he is gone.
On July 2, concerned citizens noticed that the duck appeared ill and notified the . He was then taken by Winnie Kelly, a Wildcare volunteer, to the International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Center.
According to Michelle Bellizzi, the San Francisco Bay Center manager for International Bird Rescue, the Center does not usually treat domestic species but when Kelly showed up with the Muscovy duck in her car, Bellizzi didn’t have the heart to turn them away.
“He was cold and wet and very thin,” recalled Bellizzi, “and he was favoring his right leg.” The first step was to get him warm. Then after he was warm and toasty, “we took some x-rays which revealed some masses in his organs that were not normal.”
Local residents suspected cancer. However, a visiting veterinarian performed a necropsy a week later and found the growths were the result of a massive infection of the liver, spleen and kidneys.
Given his age and failing health, the prognosis was not good. “It must have been very painful,” said Bellizzi.
There was nothing to be done except provide pain relief, food, warmth and tender loving care for his final day, which was July 9.
Back in the lagoon that Percy/Elvis/Mr. Willie called home, a makeshift shrine has sprung up at a tree next to the lagoon. Mourners have festooned the tree with flowers and plastic leis.
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