Ding Dong, The Duck's Not Dead

The 16.5-metre-tall inflatable Rubber Duck art installation lies deflated in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on May 15, 2013.
Phillipe Lopez | Getty Images
The 16.5-metre-tall inflatable Rubber Duck art installation lies deflated in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on May 15, 2013.

Hong Kong was in shock and deep sadness last night as revelations of the demise of the now-famous 16.5 meter tall yellow "Rubber Ducky" came to light, as the blogosphere and local media were swamped by pictures of Ducky listing pathetically and mournfully on his left side (assuming it's a he, CNBC has been unable to check the anatomy) in the harbor, looking bereft of breath, gaunt, and lifeless.

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The duck – which has come to symbolize a spark of levity and brightness in what has been an otherwise grey, humid, and dreary Spring – has only been here for a week and a half, after having been on a world tour including stops in Sao Paulo, Sydney, and Osaka. Hence, its demise was set to become a black mark of ultimate sadness in the annals of history in this city.

I spoke to Karen Tam, the Assistant General Manager at Harbour City Estates, which brought Ducky to Hong Kong as a promotion for its shopping mall adjacent to Ducky's resting spot. The following is a transcript of the conversation.

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Bernie: Karen, I'm so sorry the duck died. I can't tell you how sad we all are. We've so cherished and loved having him here.
Karen: What on earth are you talking about? Ducky isn't dead! He's undergoing maintenance.
Bernie: Why does a duck need maintenance?
Karen: All things need regular maintenance.
Bernie: Why is he leaking so badly?
Karen: We have to deflate him to do a body check.
Bernie: So he suffered an acute leak attack?
Karen: That's what we're checking.
Bernie: What hospital is he in?
Karen: He's been taken to another location for servicing.
Bernie: Where?
Karen: Somewhere else.
Bernie: So, Ducky will be back?
Karen: Yes.
Bernie: When?
Karen: We don't know yet, like your doctor can't always tell you when you're going to be up and about again.
Bernie: When is the estimated date of re-inflation?
Karen: We don't have a timetable yet.
Bernie: Call me when you know.
Karen: Okay.

Rubber Ducky, in happier times
Getty Images
Rubber Ducky, in happier times

Watching the duck float into Hong Kong harbor at the beginning of the month, I along with many Hong Kong people felt an unfamiliar sense of liberation, in this congested city where the concrete jungle can often make you feel trapped.

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Then again, the duck has kind of been staying right next to the shopping mall since arriving. Aren't ducks supposed to quack and paddle around? But right now, I just want to see him get better.

Get well soon Rubber Ducky! We miss you!