A duck tale with a rescue, cleaner water and theft

Stranded duck rescued from fountain in Unity Plaza Sunday

By Roxy Tyler - Web producer, Zachery Lashway - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Here's a duck tale you're not likely to forget involving a rescue, a cleaner retention pond and an unexpected theft.

It's an update to a story about a litter-filled fountain pond in Unity Plaza in Jacksonville’s Brooklyn neighborhood and an injured mallard duck stuck in the water among the floating trash. 

The debris has been cleared from the fountain and after several attempts, the duck was rescued on Sunday.

Two weeks ago, News4Jax reported about loads of trash floating in the water and the injured duck stuck among the debris.

That duck was finally rescued on Sunday by two dedicated volunteers. While the rescue was a success, it was not without a setback for one volunteer.

During the mission Sunday, someone walked up to the wildlife rehabilitation rescue truck and stole volunteer Valerie Hale's purse, then ran off.

People who were watching the rescue from their balcony of a nearby apartment complex saw the thief steal the purse and alerted Valerie Hale and Justin Carver as they worked below.

“So, I run over, and I see a man grabbing a purse and he runs off with it,” Carver said. “I chased after him and I called 911.”

But the thief got away. 

“I am in the pond and can’t do anything about it. But you know what, I just focused on the duck," Hale said.

The whole incident took seconds. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was called. They took fingerprints and said they will keep their eyes open, but they want this to be a reminder for people to always lock their car doors.  

As for the duck mission, after several feedings and time spent building a ramp, Sunday was the day.

Carver and Hale put kayaks in the water and the rescue was a success.

“This duck can absolutely live a long happy life; he has a slight wound under his wing. We are going to bring him for evaluation, a little medical treatment, let him rest a little while, and he is going to get back out there," Hale said. "Oh my gosh, (this) made my day, and this is from the woman who has to go home and tell her husband her purse was stolen and all of her personal ID at the same time. All for a duck.”

They took the duck to be treated for its injury and hopefully, it will eventually be able to fly again. 

“I have a thing for animals, and I actually saw the duck two weeks ago, and when I noticed he wasn’t actually leaving the pond, we got Valerie involved. We decided we would do everything we could to rescue him.” Carver said.

As for the upkeep of the fountain, the property owner, Hallmark Partners, Inc., told News4Jax, the maintenance company hired to clean the fountain will do it weekly instead of monthly.  

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