After hearing from Humane Long Island and its international Duck Defenders program, St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School has pledged to end its 40-year tradition of hatching baby ducklings in classrooms! The last eleven ducklings hatched last week are being cared for at Humane Long Island’s Riverhead aviary while awaiting placement at vegan sanctuaries. 

Six of the plucky ducks will be adopted by Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, a 150-acre home for rescued farmed animals in High Falls, NY. The remaining five will live out their lives at The Merrymac Farm Sanctuary, a 15-acre home for rescued farmed animals in Charlotte, VT. 

“St John the Baptist’s humane decision to end its 40-year tradition of hatching baby ducklings in classrooms teaches students the valuable lesson that baby animals are not disposable props or science experiments, but instead inquisitive, social animals who should be raised by their mother, not an incubator,” says John Di Leonardo, an anthrozoologist and executive director of Humane Long Island. “Given education’s current focus on protecting students from deadly diseases, such as COVID-19 and HPAI, which baby birds can contract, as well as the national bully epidemic, Humane Long Island is urging other schools to follow St. John’s lead by discontinuing hatching projects from their curriculums.” 

“We have taken in dozens of ducklings and chicks who are unwanted after hatching projects conclude. Most of the babies sadly don’t end up at sanctuaries or homes with the resources to care for them properly,” says Rachel McCrystal, executive director of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. “There are simply not enough good homes for all of those ducklings and chicks who need them after the hatching projects are over. So these babies often end up neglected, surrendered to overburdened shelters, or abandoned. Woodstock Sanctuary thanks St. John’s for working with Humane Long Island to place these baby birds at our sanctuary and for teaching its students that animals are not ours to experiment with.” 

“The Merrymac Farm Sanctuary is happy to support St. John in ending hatching projects,” says Era MacDonald, founder of Merrymac Farm Sanctuary. “Humane education is a core part of our mission to educate the public about best practices of animal welfare. In this day and age, live hatching projects are antiquated and unnecessary, with numerous educational opportunities available online for those wishing to take a deeper look into the life cycle of a chick or duckling. We encourage other schools to follow in St. John’s footsteps by ending hatching projects in their communities as well.”