Quacking sensation: Daniel the emotional support duck soars in popularity after first plane ride

A duck by the name of Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt became a quacking sensation online after photos of the four-and-a-half-year-old travelling in a plane were posted on Twitter.
A duck by the name of Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt became a quacking sensation online after photos of the four-and-a-half-year-old travelling in a plane were posted on Twitter. PHOTO: @MARK_ESSIG/ TWITTER

Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt became a quacking sensation online after photos of the four-and-a-half-year-old travelling in a plane were posted on Twitter.

Why? Because Daniel is an Indian Runner duck.

The man who shared Daniel's pictures, writer Mark Essig, met the duck on a flight from Charlotte to Asheville in the United States on Monday (Oct 17).

He had noticed the duck waddling down the aisle as he settled into his seat, reported the Washington Post on Thursday (Oct 20).

Daniel was well-dressed too, wearing red shoes and a Captain American diaper.

Its owner, Ms Carla Fitzgerald from Wisconsin, explained to those around her that Daniel is her emotional support animal. Ms Fitzgerald, 37, has been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since an accident in 2013.

Mr Essig told the Washington Post: "I heard a few maybe semi-critical mutterings, like, 'Now I've seen everything'. But almost everybody was delighted to have a duck on a plane. As they should be."

Mr Essig posted the photos he took of the unusual passenger on Twitter after the flight.

Little did he know that the Internet was going to make a social media darling of Daniel, as his tweets of the animal were shared thousands of times.

The most well-received post was the shot of Daniel looking forlornly out of the airplane.

"A duck head is a very recognisable shape, and the shape of an airline window is a very recognisable shape, too," Mr Essig explained. "So you've got two very recognisable shapes that don't normally go together... it caught people's eye."

Daniel's owner Ms Fitzgerald adopted the duck in 2012 when it was two days old, reported the Washington Post.

Less than a year later, the former horse-and-carriage driver in Milwaukee was involved in a serious road accident.

Ms Fitzgerald was rendered immobile for months and went through post-traumatic stress disorder, which she calls "hell".

Daniel somehow knew that things were different after the accident and would tend to its owner's emotional needs.

"He would notice something wrong, whether it be my pain or my PTSD," Ms Fitzgerald said. "He would come and lie on me and (give me) lots of hugging and lots of kisses. And if he notices that I'm going to have a panic attack, he would give me a cue to lie down by trying to climb me."

Daniel also enjoys movies and toys that make sounds, she shared, adding that Monday had been the first time it was on a flight. She provided a doctor's note to the airline and it agreed to her request to take Daniel along.

"Everyone just took notice of him and fell in love," she said. "I mean, he's an adorable, funny and sweet little guy. He was very well behaved at the airport and during the flight," Ms Fitzgerald said to ABC News.

However, Ms Fitzgerald remains bemused about the incident.

"I didn't know that a little Indian Runner duck who weighs six pounds could cause such an uproar," she said to the Washington Post.