Wildlife care center in O.C. seeks help feeding nearly 900 orphaned ducklings

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The Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach on Monday asked for the public’s assistance to help provide food for hundreds of orphaned mallard ducklings that are currently in the facility’s care.

The WWCC ended up with nearly 900 baby ducks after “a tsunami of orphans came in,” according to Debbie McGuire, a board member who is one of the center’s directors. She explained the organization is the only one in all of Orange County that rescues orphaned ducklings — hence the high number.

In the past week alone, the center has received more than 100 ducklings, employee Denise Brown estimated. Typically, they get more than 1,000 baby mallards each year.

“Many of the orphaned animals that we get are legitimate orphans who need our help,” Brown told KTLA. “But with ducklings, a lot of the times they would have been OK except humans who meant well intervened when they didn’t need to, and so they’ve accidentally created a situation where the ducklings need help.”

Such instances include when people, thinking they’re helping, try to pick up the ducklings when they are with their mother but inadvertently scare off the mama duck instead.

“If you see ducklings and they’re with their mom, and their mom doesn’t appear injured … just observe them before you get involved,” Brown said.

But for anyone who sees a potentially dangerous situation — like when ducklings are crossing a street, or they’re near a storm drain or a grate on the sidewalk — Brown recommends intervening by acting as a crossing guard, rather than actually touching baby mallards or picking them up.

“We don’t know if there’s actually more intervention this year or if it just sort of feels that way, but we’ve had several people who have tried to help … and they can’t,” she said.

Now, with hundreds of mouths to feed, the care center is struggling to procure the necessary amount of provisions to keep the tiny ducks from going hungry. On average, they go through about 60 heads of lettuce every day, according to McGuire.

The center is seeking various types of lettuces — anything but iceberg — leafy greens such as kale, and some types of cabbages to subsidize their current stock, which isn’t enough.

The ducks are expected to be in the care of WWCC for up to three months before they’ll be released back into the wild.

Food donations can be dropped off between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the center, which is located at 21900 Pacific Coast Highway. The center is also welcoming any donations of extra bedding and towels, Brown said.

Additionally, the WWCC is also accepting monetary donations here.

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