‘Hugging duck’ goes to his forever home with birds of a feather


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Sergio the duck from Suntree Elementary School has now gone to his forever farm home.

photo by Linda Wiggins

In the end, they loved him too much to keep him.

Sergio “the hugging duck,” as he was nicknamed when his story went viral on social media, was the darling of Suntree Elementary School teacher Jana Gabrielski's sixth-grade class last year. He roamed the classroom freely courtesy of a specially fitted diaper. He returned this school year, to the delight of his new classmates.

But it became clear that it was only right that Sergio, who thought Gabrielski was his mother and his fellow students were his fledgling siblings, should be allowed to be a real duck. He was adopted by a family in North Brevard who have ducks like Sergio, a pond and a small menagerie of other farm animal pets.

“Today is Sergio’s last day at Suntree,” Gabrielski told her students. The day was bittersweet.

“He is going into his next phase of life, kind of like sending him off to college! His new home is a farm with very nurturing parents and three duck siblings-to-be: another Peking, a Swedish gray and a Rouen. I am sure he won’t forget his Suntree family and we won’t forget him.”

Sergio was the only chick among 40-plus eggs to hatch last spring, thus he had no other ducks as a point of reference and so bonded to humans. His first sight of other real ducks was puzzling, but he took to them like a … well, duck … takes to water. And speaking of water, it was also his first adult experience actually swimming. His student siblings — called the Sergio Squad — came to school early and stayed late to keep his kiddie pool clean and freshly filled, but he grew so big his webbed feet touched the bottom.

Those wishing to keep abreast of Serio's duck tales won't be able to do so any longer on social media. Gabrielski's friend who adopted Sergio wishes to remain anonymous so that Sergio — and their family — can live a quiet life.

The saga continues, however. Gabrielski's class will be back in the chicken and duck hatching business this spring.