Duck with broken leg nursed back to health by five-year-old

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A duck with a broken leg has been nursed back to health and released into the wild by a five-year-old Carlisle schoolboy.

Elliot MacDonald took charge of the injured mallard when it was brought home to recuperate by his mum, Karen, who is head nurse at Paragon Vets in Dalston.

The young duck was brought into the surgery by a local woman who found it lying in the middle of a nearby road.

Staff presumed it had been hit by a car and an x-ray confirmed that her leg was badly fractured. So a lightweight splint was fitted and after a couple of nights at the Dalston practice, the duck needed somewhere to recuperate from its ordeal.

So Karen, who has worked at Paragon for 24 years, volunteered to look after the duck with the help of young Elliot who named it Woody.

Elliot had been off school because of the lockdown so was delighted to help. Every day he ensured that Woody was well fed with hen and wild bird feed and a few vegetables. 

Woody also built up her strength splashing around in a washing up bowl for around half an hour each day and after about three weeks was well enough to go back to Paragon’s Dalston practice to be assessed.

Karen said: “She had another splint on for a week and you could see she was really trying to use the injured leg, standing on it and she went in our paddling pool too.

“Elliot really enjoyed looking after Woody. It gave him a bit of responsibility and he loved looking after her. When the time came to release the duck back into the wild initially Elliot didn’t want to let her go, but we explained that she needed to be with her friends and he was happy with that.”

Woody was released back into the wild at Caldbeck by Elliot and his family and the duck seemed to be excited to see other ducks and the village’s impressive pond.

Elliot has been rewarded for his kindness in looking after Woody with a new pet – a gecko lizard which he has named Radar.

Vet Ann Noble, who initially assessed the injured duck was delighted with its recovery. “The leg was clearly badly broken, but not through the skin and without any other injuries we were hopeful she would recover.

“When you discover a wild bird in distress there is always a fine line about how to respond. Younger birds are normally best left for their mothers to find, but this mallard was clearly injured so we were pleased that it was brought in to the surgery so we could care for it.”

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