Fowl play? Giant rubber duck drowns in Hong Kong

Story highlights

  • Duck deflated overnight Tuesday
  • Rubber duck is planned to be on show until June 9
  • Duck had captivated Hong Kong

Hong Kong's favorite new resident, a giant inflatable duck, took a turn for the worse on Wednesday, looking less like an oversized lovable plaything and more like an unappetizing fried egg on the water.

The 16.5-meter (54 feet) inflatable sculpture mysteriously lost its mojo overnight, deflated and bobbed lifelessly in Victoria Harbour.

Organizers called an urgent duck crisis meeting early Wednesday and didn't immediately respond to questions about the misfortunes of the duck or whether the deflation was part of regular maintenance, as reported in some local media. A tweet did appear however on the official Harbour City Twitter account, saying: "The Rubber Duck needs to freshen up. Stay tuned for its return."

Much later in the day, organizers responded and said it was a planned deflation. Why it took so long to clarify and why officials had to get senior management approval to make such a statement seems a little odd and naturally, this got Hong Konger's busy with the popular pastime of gossiping.

The duck has captivated Hong Kong since its arrival earlier this month and news of the duck's deflation was splashed across Hong Kong media and social networks with many ruminating as to the duck's health.

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Called "Rubber Duck," it's the product of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. After going on show on May 2, it was to be on display until June 9.

The artist told CNN earlier this month the duck was built locally so it would be easier to fix should there be any duck drama.

Hong Kong is the latest port of call for the duck. It's previously taken up temporary residence in cities all over the world, including Osaka, Sydney, Sao Paolo and Amsterdam.

The duck hasn't always enjoyed plain sailing. In 2009 during a port call in Belgium, it was stabbed 42 times by a vandal.

"We don't know why the person did it," Hofman said. "But in the Middle Ages there was a moment when they ruined all the sculptures in Europe. We call it a "sculpture storm." The museum that bought the work spoke about 'Sculpture Stormers' that would hit the work - and kill it."

"But [the incident] brought the people of that town together. The community had a stake out at night and protected it and even the police looked after it. It shows that this piece of art means a lot to people in the vicinity of this work."

The duck team also closely monitor the weather after the duck copped some nasty treatment during a storm in Belgium.

"There is a crew that has wind speed meters and they follow what the weather does," Hofman said. "They monitor by computer and monitor the weather so they can react in advance because we don't want to cry if it gets ripped up."

For more details on the duck during cheerier times read our earlier report: Hong Kong crazy for giant duck