Coston also discouraged ducks as pets, especially since they can live up to 20 years and more. She noted that it's unlikely a child can take the duck to college.
Parents often assume they can set a duck free at a local pond once it outgrows its duckling stage, but "domestic ducks are not equipped to survive in the wild like their wild cousins," she said.
They can't fly, their colors don't match the environment and they don't know how to act in the wild, "so they fall prey to many wild animals, dogs and, sadly, even people," she said. In many cases, territorial ducks at a pond will kill newcomers.
Lydia Yasuda, a photographer from Diamond Bar, Calif., volunteers weekly at Chrysong's rescue after Chrysong took in her daughter's duckling. He had followed the girl around at a lake, and "we thought he could grow up and we could take him to the pond," said Yasuda.
Then the Yasudas started to read about caring for ducks. Her husband said no and they live in an apartment, so Benji went to the duck rescue.
Chrysong, who also keeps two horses and a dog on her half-acre of property in a rural area near Los Angeles, said she herself fell in love with ducks at age 8, when she and her sister received ducks as Easter gifts. "Those two ducks followed us all over Inglewood. They would wait outside when we took them to the store," she recalled.
When the ducks were 5, her parents released them at a pond, she said.
"It was devastating for me. They kept following us to the car. Eventually, my father said, 'Let's go,' and we left them there in the parking lot. I never got over it. Now I know what happens to them. That's why I am so aggressive about the work we do," Chrysong said.