If you’ve been on the internet in the past week, you’ve probably seen this very important duck video.
It’s not hard to see why it’s gone viral. People can’t get enough of those little feeties tapping out a rhythm on that snare drum. But one very important fact might have gotten lost in all the hubbub. That duck is from right here in Minnesota.
The original video was posted by minnesotaduck on Instagram, which has 41,000 followers. The little drummer duck’s name is Ben Afquack, and he lives with Derek Johnson and his family in St. Paul.
Johnson got Ben at an Anoka farm store, when he was just a fuzzy, day-old duckling. Ben quickly got very attached to his new family and started following them around everywhere. Instagram photos show Ben perched on a paddleboard, settled into a hammock, and enjoying a dip in the lake with his humans.
It sometimes gets a little tedious plodding through the St. Paul Winter Carnival at duck speed, but Ben gets anxious when his people are away, and Johnson doesn’t mind.
“If we’re going to be having fun at any time, you know what makes it even more fun?” he says. “Having a duck with you.”
It was impossible to tell Ben’s gender when he was a baby, so Johnson contented himself with giving him a punny name and not worrying too much about it. When Ben eventually laid an egg, his human family shrugged and embraced his new gender-fluid identity. Ben’s a he or a she depending on what the moment requires.
One day, Johnson, a drummer, had a disassembled snare drum nearby, and he got an idea. Whenever he picks Ben up, he tends to do a sort of mid-air paddle, kind of like what dogs do if you hold them over water. So, he picked up his duck and held him over the drum. Voila—a perfect beat.
He posted the video that evening and went to bed. By the time he got up, it was “going nuts.” Hundreds of shares metastasized into thousands, and Ben became an overnight celebrity. The memes have been flowing ever since.
FRICKING DRUMMING DUCK pic.twitter.com/KChXkwYlUN— かめりあ@冬コミ4日目火曜 西A46 (@cametek) January 25, 2020
Inevitably, a few commenters came out of the woodwork to accuse Johnson of somehow abusing his duck—as if the farm fowl would somehow be better off in the wild, or holding Ben over a drum is somehow worse than, say, taking him around on the back of a scooter, which he’s totally also done.
“It’s kind of annoying, to be perfectly honest,” he says. “If you could only see the pampered life this stupid little duck lives… it hurts my heart a little bit.”
If you happen to see Ben waddling around the Twin Cities, Johnson says, feel free to come up and say hello. Or, better yet he says, get a duck of your own so they can be buddies.
Or maybe bandmates.