Don’t tell anybody, but he is rapidly becoming my favorite. Not everyone likes Mr. Duck at Conner Prairie, but as you know I’ve always been one to root for the underdog. He seems to like me in return and is willing to sit in my lap or arms for hours while being petted and otherwise inspected by curious guests.
He is an Indian Runner Duck. A rare breed that was imported from India and Malaya into Brittan in the 1830s. They were referred to as Penguin Ducks because of their upright stance. Like penguins, the Indian Runner cannot fly, nor do they waddle, instead their leg position allows them to run at a remarkable pace. Historically the ducks were trained to stay near a herder with a bamboo pole. They were driven out to forage rice paddies during the day, then back to a bamboo hut at night to lay their eggs. Centuries of this type of arrangement produced a breed that were good walkers, excellent foragers and prolific layers.
Ancient stone carvings suggest that this breed of duck has been domesticated for over 2000 years. They are raised not for meat, but for their egg laying ability; a hen can lay over 180 eggs per year.
The breed standard has a wide variety of colors, hens often sport different markings than drakes. Mr. Duck’s color is called fawn & white. Unprotected they generally live 5-10 years, in captivity even longer. I sure hope he lives that long, I think he’s pretty cool.