Leiden professor discovers recording of rude duck: “You bloody fool”

Leiden professor discovers recording of rude duck: “You bloody fool”

Carel ten Cate, professor of animal behaviour at Leiden University, has discovered a recording from 1987 in which a musk duck can be heard mimicking human speech. 

Musk duck in Australia mimics human speech

Adult musk ducks raised in captivity learn to mimic the sounds they hear as hatchlings, and this recording from the 80s has revealed that Ripper, a four-year-old duck in captivity in Australia, was able to successfully mimic human speech. In the recording, you can hear Ripper say “you bloody fool” - likely something he picked up from a former handler. 

“Vocal learning is a rare and special trait, so that makes this duck particularly special,” Ten Cate says. The professor was left stunned by the recording, which he stumbled upon by accident only recently. 

While the discovery has been considered a breakthrough in the bird world, experts do emphasise that it doesn't mean the average duck - whether it be a pet or wild bird - can be taught common words and phrases. 

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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