Baltimore

The friendly duck called Baltimore came to the sanctuary from a foie gras factory. (You can watch a documentary about that rescue here.) Eight years later, he’s still going strong. [Baltimore died in August of 2012: Read his obituary here.]

Pate Foie gras is made from the organs of birds with fatty liver disease. Ducks in foie gras factories are force-fed in order to deliberately induce this disease. Confined in isolation cages or crowded together in filthy sheds, these waterbirds lack access to everything they need to be healthy and happy—water, sunshine, and freedom of movement.

Coated in vomit, their throats raw from the tubes used to force-feed them, they huddle in the darkness longing for water and dreading the next visit of the people who handle them so violently.

Baltimore and his crew were among the lucky few salvaged in the course of an “open rescue” that exposed the conditions at the factory in which they had been confined. After several weeks of intensive veterinary care, they came to the Eastern Shore Sanctuary in the spring of 2002.

While his best friend D'Affee was very outgoing, Baltimore turned out to be shy

Despite the deprivations they had endured, Baltimore and his pals proved to be exceptionally generous to each other and to other birds. Much larger than the young “broiler” chickens who came to the sanctuary after jumping from transport trucks, the ducks took care to avoid trampling or scaring the young birds. Once, they adopted an injured young rooster called Chumbawamba, who limped along after them all day, imitating their way of grazing, and then cuddled up with them at night.

Years passed, fall following summer as it always does. D’Affee limped along on a bad leg that never fully recovered from his injurious days at the factory, slower than the other ducks but never far from Baltimore. Their friends Jean-Paul and Jean-Claude mated and stayed together for life, one following the other into death within a week after six long years together at the sanctuary. As the ducks with whom he’d arrived passed away,  aging Baltimore chose to take up with the chickens rather than socializing with Seagull and her extended family of Muscovy ducks.

Then came the big move, when the sanctuary relocated from Maryland to Vermont. Easygoing Baltimore made the transition smoothly and has since extended his social circle to include geese and one of the newer ducks. Despite his age and the trauma his body underwent back at the factory, he still shows evident zest for life, bursting out of the barn each morning and lingering as long as he can before going in for the evening.