When author Mark Essig boarded a flight to Asheville from Charlotte, North Carolina, he never could’ve imagined that he’d be seated next to a duck. But that’s exactly what happened.
Essig was sat next to Daniel, an emotional support duck, who was helping to keep his owner at ease with his soft quacks and wagging tail.
Emotional support animals are important as they provide therapeutic benefits to their owners. They are often cats or dogs, but can be other species too.
Tweeting a photo of the duck, who was sporting a pair of delightful, custom-made shoes, Essig wrote: “His gentle quacking eases the sadness of leaving.”
Emotional support animals are prescribed by mental health specialists to comfort their owners. They have a special license which means they are allowed to travel on flights or live in places that don’t usually allow pets.
Daniel was spotted prior to boarding the flight, chilling in a pushchair, with a piece of paper that read, “My first flight”.
He was later spotted by fellow passenger Essig, who shared photos and videos of the well-behaved duck throughout the flight.
Understandably, it wasn’t long before Daniel - whose full name is Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt - became a minor celebrity on social media.
He was also wearing a Captain America nappy, to keep his bowel movements in check, which seemed to go down well with passengers.
After chatting to Daniel’s owner, Essig discovered that the duck was four years old and was purchased at a yard sale.
His owner “kissed him on the beak several times” and held his beak gently when he quacked a lot during the flight, Essig told BuzzFeed News.
All in all, we wish we’d have been on that flight.