Written by Daniel Victor
He was internationally crowned the “world’s loneliest duck,” but that clearly wasn’t true. There haven’t been many ducks as loved as Trevor.
The tiny Pacific island nation of Niue, about 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand, mourned this week after Trevor — its beloved, and only, duck — was killed by a stray dog near the roadside puddle that had been his home since January 2018. Niue’s 1,600 residents had grown quite fond of their mysterious visitor, working every day to keep him alive by feeding him or refilling his rapidly evaporating puddle.
No one knew how he’d ended up there, but they were very glad he did.
“He captured many hearts,” said Rae Finlay, chief executive of the Niue Chamber of Commerce. “And even the rooster, the chicken and the weka were looking a little forlorn today wandering around near the dry puddle.”
It’s easy to anthropomorphize animals, using their seemingly random fates as metaphors for perseverance in the face of our uniquely human challenges. So let’s do that.
Trevor clearly didn’t belong in Niue (pronounced noo-ay); the best theory holds that he was blown there in a brutal storm. Niue, a self-governing nation with strong ties to New Zealand and a land mass about the size of Orlando, Florida, is an atoll with no ponds, streams or other bodies of water that ducks typically need.
The day after the storm, Finlay spotted the duck in a puddle off a main road. Soon he was the talk of the town.
But unlike New York’s famous Mandarin duck, an object of fascination for photographers but a generally self-sufficient visitor, Trevor’s survival took a village.
The puddle he lived in was no ordinary fixture of the island. During the dry season, it had to be constantly refilled by government officials, the fire department or locals ferrying barrels of water in their trucks.
At first, people fed him bread, but they researched and learned he was better off with the likes of oats, rice and corn. They decided to name him Trevor after Trevor Mallard, a New Zealand politician (who offered his condolences Saturday).
With all of that food up for grabs, the puddle attracted other animals, notably a rooster who often competed for the oats.
Still, living hundreds of miles away from any other duck wasn’t exactly ideal for Trevor, and residents debated what they could do for him. They considered flying in another duck as a mate, but the puddle could barely accommodate one, let alone two — and, as noted, Niue is a lousy environment for ducks. They thought about sending Trevor to more hospitable New Zealand, where he may have come from (though he could also have hailed from another Pacific island like Tonga), but there were logistical and biosecurity issues.
Eventually, his celebrity expanded beyond the island. When Claire Trevett, a senior writer at The New Zealand Herald, asked for directions while visiting Niue, someone told her to “turn right after the duck,” she wrote for the newspaper in September.
After that, Trevor’s story rapidly spread to other international publications. Visitors to Niue (which gets about 9,000 per year) began clamoring to meet the duck and snap selfies with him, Finlay said. Trevor’s Facebook page, run by Finlay, has more than 1,500 fans, almost matching the island’s population.
But the deepest bond he formed was with the island’s residents. Coral Pasisi said her two children had read stories about ducks but had never seen one before, so “our trips to fill his pond were a little bit like visiting the zoo for free.” They even visited him on Christmas.
“Thank you for gracing our shores for a year and for bringing my children a lot of joy,” she wrote on Facebook.