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Turlock residents help ducks in distress
duck 1
Turlock residents found a pair of ducks that someone had used zip ties on to force their beak open. Elizabeth Stevens, Tyler White, Ronnie Vasconcellos and Scotty Stratton worked together to free them from the restraints. - photo by Photo Contributed

Two ducks are once again swimming around happily in the lake at Donnelly Park after some residents stepped up and freed them from the zip ties someone had placed around their beaks.

For Elizabeth Stevens watching the ducks and even stopping to pet some of them is a favorite pastime at the park, which is why she knew something was wrong Monday night when she and her friends — Tyler White, Ronnie Vasconcellos and Scotty Stratton — saw two ducks waddling around with their beaks agape.

“I saw that one had its beak wide open and Tyler went up to it and said something looked wrong,” Stevens said. “So, I went up to it with my flashlight and noticed something was very wrong when I saw a zip-tie around its neck and in its mouth.

“I went up closer to it and noticed one beside it also had one around itself,” Stevens continued. “I approached it very cautiously as it was very close to the water and I was afraid it'd jump and swim away from me but it let me get close enough to grab it.”

Someone had taken zip ties and fastened them around the duck’s beak and neck, causing the beak to stay open, which would prevent the duck from drinking and eating.

“They seemed like it had been around them for quite a while,” Stevens said.

Stevens held onto the first duck in her lap for about 30 minutes while Vasconcellos went and got a steak knife from his apartment, which they used to cut the tie off the duck.

“With the second duck, we tried to catch it but it seemed a lot wearier of what our intentions were,” Stevens said. “Luckily while it was trying to get the zip-tie off of itself, it got it loose from its mouth, but it was still around its neck. Eventually it came up onto the land and I was able to get between it and the lake, so I quickly reacted and caught it. While I held it, Ronnie cut it off because unlike the first duck, this tie was a lot tighter.”

With both ducks freed they went off back into the water.

“Once we set them loose they couldn't help but to swim around happily,” Stevens recalled.

Stevens said she was glad she was able to help the pair, but the fact that someone would harm them in the first place has really pulled at her heartstrings.

“I've been against animal abuse my entire life,” Stevens said. “To see this happen I was extremely distraught. I didn't know why someone would do this to such innocent creatures. I know that some of the ducks at Donnelly are really friendly to where you can pet them because I've done it countless times before. It makes me so sad that someone would take advantage of a duck’s kindness and go and torture the poor things. Someone with a sick and twisted mind decided to leave them like this to starve. It really aches my heart. I'm just glad that I, with the help of my wonderful friends, were able to get the zip ties off before something terrible happened to them.”