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Humongous Swollen Duckling Paddles Down the Thames

From what hellish port of call did this monstrous waterfowl come?

Call it the Rule of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man: Blow up any innocent object to immense proportions and it becomes terrifying.

And so it was that Londoners out for a stroll on Tuesday morning were blasted with the datura hallucination of a 50-foot duckling paddling aggressively down the Thames. What hellish port of call had released this feathered Titanic? What was to be its final destination? Was there a 500-foot toddler in hot pursuit, angry that he's lost his favorite bathtime toy?

No, this wasn't the Duck God come out to rescue its thousands of poisonous offspring recently seized in Southern California. The truth is more mundane: It was a marketing stunt by U.K. gambling company Jackpotjoy, which is hyping a Facebook campaign that gives cash to Britons who come up with fun or “quackers” ideas. Thus the use of a rubber duck – although you have to wonder if Jackpotjoy had a giant inflatable waterfowl in the warehouse that it needed to use, and only came up with “quackers” as an afterthought.

ITV London reports that the bobbing behemoth was so large that London Bridge had to be raised to allow it to pass. Interestingly enough, this wasn't the first time that a honkin' great duckling has appeared in human waterways. Last year, one popped up in New Zealand, and in 2009 another arose in Osaka like one of Godzilla's more questionable foes.

Here's some more footage of the Thames duck:

(H/t to Andrew Beaujon)

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.