RED BANK: DUCKLINGS RESCUED FROM SEWER

rb ducks 051415 5While passersby tried to corral the mother duck and eight of her ducklings, above, Lauren Dezzi, below, got ready to retrieve four other babies from the sewer. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb ducks 051415 6Four ducklings that apparently fell into a storm drain in downtown Red Bank were reunited with their mother and eight siblings by a fast-acting office worker Thursday afternoon.

Using a fish net from an aquarium in her office at OceanFirst Bank, Lauren Dezzi of Manchester got down on all fours atop a Broad Street sewer and gently plucked the downy babies to safety shortly after noon.

rb ducks 051415  4Mother duck and eight ducklings nervously paced the sidewalk as a noontime crowd of onlookers grew. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

The presence of the ducklings in the sewer was apparently unnoticed until downtown worker Robin Kirchberger, returning to her office with lunch, noticed the adult duck and eight babies crossing Linden Place at Broad Street.

After she helped guide them to the sidewalk, “the mother went back across [Linden] to the sewer and stood on grate, and just kind of looked at me,” Kirchberger said.

When Kirchberger tried to coax the duck out of the street, she heard chirping below, and saw the babies in the storm drain.

With the other ducklings back in the street and joined by their mother, Kirchberger and other passersby attempted to herd them to safety while other downtown workers and shoppers gathered around the sewer grate.

Police and the borough’s animal control officer, Henry Perez, were called. But before they arrived, Dezzi, risking a dry-cleaning bill at the very least, bent down over the grate, reached into the basin with the fish net and gingerly retrieved the ducklings, one by one.

The nervous mother and her dozen babies were reunited on the sidewalk, penned in against a building with trash bins and boxes, as onlookers fed them rice and water and joked about not letting the chef at Temple Gourmet Chinese next door get his hands on them.

Asked about her quick response to the situation, Dezzi told redbankgreen that she’d rescued her two cats, then five weeks old, from a storm drain in front of her home. They’re eight years old now, she said.

It’s not immediately known if the mother duck was one of several that took a liking to downtown Red Bank back in February.

[Update: Animal Control Officer Henry Perez tells redbankgreen he relocated the duck and ducklings to private property in Shrewsbury in order to get them away from the perils of downtown activity. “Mommy and all 12 ducklings are doing great,” he said.]

rb ducks 051415 3Lauren Dezzi reaching into the sewer for the last duckling after its brothers and sisters had been placed inside a box. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

rb ducks 051415 1Robin Kirchberger in the makeshift duck pen awaits the arrival of borough Animal Control Officer Henry Perez. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)