critter visits

Fostering baby ducks is the latest quarantine trend in Toronto

Stuck at home and struggling with boredom, a Toronto family decided to foster ducklings this spring. The three ducklings brought a little joy to the family, said Roncesvalles resident Cristina Dias, mother of two teens.

“The kids are coping with so much now being isolated from their friends,” said Dias.

Dias said her 13-year-old son heard from a friend about Critter Visits — a Kawartha Lakes area farm, which runs a duckling foster program.

“He would not stop bugging us,” said Dias.

The ducklings roamed around the house, swam in the bathtub and fell asleep in the kid's hands.

critter visits

The ducklings swim in the Dias-Sorry family bathtub.

The ducklings were tiny when they picked them up on April 30 but grew to the size of a football three weeks later when they brought them back.

“They get big very quickly within the first week they (nearly) tripled their size,” Dias said.

Taking care of the ducklings was not only a diversion but a learning experience for the kids.

“I think they learned about empathy in taking care of something that is so little and vulnerable.”

It was a fun experience but there is some dirty work.

“They poop everywhere.”

Dias said neighbourhood friends heard about her experience and have also decided to foster ducklings.

Critter Visits owner Karen Woolley said the duckling program is popular. This year more than 2,000 ducklings have gone out to foster families since just before Easter.

“With COVID people really needed to have a pet when they couldn’t have a pet,” Woolley said. Those thinking of fostering ducklings should check local bylaws. Toronto’s animal bylaws technically prohibit keeping ducks and there is a $240 fine.

The boom in business led the 40-acre hobby farm to hire eight more people and bring in duck breeders from across Ontario to provide more ducklings.

The farm has a COVID-friendly pick up system. The ducklings come with a manual, food, shavings and other supplies. Families drive to the farm and load up everything without contact.

It's not too late to foster some ducklings this year. Woolley said the plan is to keep the program going through to September.

Photos by

Dias Sorry family

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