US Capitol Gets Duckling Ramps, Brouhaha Ensues

CC BY-NC 2.0. John Sonderman via Flickr

As baby ducks get a boost at the Capitol Reflecting Pool, at least one politician’s Grinchesque response has duckling defenders up in arms.

Pity the Capitol ducklings. Four families of mallards have moved into the reflecting pool just west of the Capitol. But alas, getting in and out of the pool has proven challenging for the babes who are too small to effectively navigate the water's edge. Thankfully, the good souls at the Architect of the Capitol – the office that oversees the iconic buildings and grounds on Capitol Hill – installed two simple ramps to give the ducklings an assist.

As noted in an online statement posted by Erin Courtney, a spokeswoman for the architect’s office, “The broad gently sloped limestone coping of the pool, however, has an unintended side-effect for our feathered-friends. Some ducklings have trouble climbing out of the pool or returning to it once out of the water.”

So they installed the ramps ... and who wouldn't be charmed by this kindness? Well, Representative Mark Walker, Republican of North Carolina, for one – the congressman kvetched on Twitter about the misuse of government funds.

According to The New York Times, the ramps were built in collaboration with City Wildlife, a nonprofit organization that helps sick and injured animals in the nation's capitol. The organization's president, Anne Lewis, said the ramps help avoid a potentially deadly duckling scenario.

“Ducklings get into the water – often helped there by visitors – and then can’t get out because of the high curb at the water’s edge,” she told The Times in an email. “They will drown from exhaustion or die of starvation unless they have a way to get out of the water.”

As you can imagine, the replies to the congressman have been, well, spirited.

And they go on and on. But perhaps the best reply of all was by the Architect of the Capitol themselves. Because seriously, with all the chaos and ugliness everywhere, what better rebuttal is there than the undeniable joy of tiny waddling ducks relying on the kindness of strangers?

Restoring patriotism, one duckling ramp at a time.