Innovative Avian Medicine Helps a Little Duck Heal

Mocha’s Match: Through an anonymous donor’s generosity, the first $10,000 given in support of our Fall Campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar! Your gift today will make twice the impact for Mocha and all of the animals at the National Aviary.

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Mocha the Marbled Teal is a tiny duck with a big—and charming—personality. You may have met Mocha and other members of a flock of Marbled Teal, in our lush Tropical Rainforest habitat. It can be easy to overlook these small ducks. But, Mocha’s tendency to socialize has given visitors a chance to take a closer look and appreciate the subtle beauty of this species’ dappled brown plumage. Visitors have loved watching Mocha waddle along the deck, quacking as she passes by, eager to be the first to show up during feedings and claim the best spot on the deck!

That’s why it was concerning to Mocha’s caregivers when this normally bubbly little duck suddenly became quiet and less active. Our experts closely monitor the health of each of the more than 500 birds in our care, and are quick to observe changes in a bird’s behavior. Thanks to their attentiveness, Mocha was quickly brought to the Avian Hospital, where our veterinary team performed tests to determine the cause behind this cheerful bird’s sudden quietness.

Female birds lay eggs throughout their lives, and older birds like Mocha are prone to developing age-related reproductive conditions common in both aging birds in the wild and in human care. One such condition is egg binding, which occurs when a female duck is unable to pass an egg on her own. This condition requires immediate treatment.

An innovative combination of advanced treatments and surgery using small instruments developed for delicate human ophthalmic (eye) surgeries helped put Mocha on the path to recovery. This technique for treating egg binding was developed here at the National Aviary to help another bird, a Call Duck named Milo, and has been shared with veterinarians, zoos, and wildlife rehabilitation centers around the world to help birds recover from this condition.

Mocha has been a model patient while she heals in a customized habitat behind the scenes.. She quacks cheerfully throughout the day, and swims and dabbles energetically in her very own pool. Thanks to Mocha’s own determined spirit and the innovative care she receives, this special bird is healing. Her bubbly personality is back, and she is thriving and being well cared for.

The Marbled Teal flock in our Tropical Rainforest habitat helps visitors learn about the rapid population declines this species is facing as a result of habitat loss, which has restricted their once wide range to small pockets of Europe and northern Africa. At the National Aviary, we participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® for Marbled Teal, and birds like Mocha have an important role to play in enhancing the conservation of these beautiful dabbling ducks.

Your donation during the National Aviary’s fall campaign supports the care of birds like Mocha.

Help Birds Like Mocha Today!

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