Duck heard shouting ‘you bloody fool’ after picking phrase up from humans

This is the incredible moment a duck repeatedly says “you bloody fool” after picking it up from humans.

Ripper, an Australian musk duck, was kept in captivity at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, south west of Canberra, when researcher Dr Peter Fullagar made the recording in 1987.

The audio resurfaced only when Prof Carel ten Cate of Leiden University in the Netherlands came across an obscure reference to a talking duck in a book on bird vocalisations.

In the 22-second clip, Ripper can heard repeating the phrase “you bloody fool” a few times as well as some background disturbance that appears to be someone slamming the door.

The Australian musk duck learned the phrase from his caretaker
(Image: BBC)

Experts believe the animal learned the phrase from his caretaker and made his vocalisations during aggressive mating displays.

This is the first documented instance of ducks being able to mimic sounds and has researchers reviewing the evolution of vocal language learning in birds.

Prof ten Cate said: “When I read it at first I thought, ‘it’s a hoax, it can’t be true’.

“But it turned out to be true.

“This came as a big surprise … it remained unnoticed by researchers in the vocal learning field until now.

Prof Carel ten Cate rediscovered the audio and was shocked by Ripper's remarkable behaviour
Prof Carel ten Cate rediscovered the audio and was shocked by Ripper’s remarkable behaviour
(Image: Leiden University)

“That makes it a very special rediscovery.”

He also suggested that Ripper could be saying “food”, rather than “fool”, adding: “I can imagine that the caretaker would jokingly say, ‘Okay, here is your bloody food’.”

Other birds and dolphins can also mimic sounds but it is very rare for ducks to achieve it.

The expert said: “We know that songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds can learn to make specific sounds.

“This includes many species, but that is because vocal learning originated in the ancestral species of these groups.

“To observe vocal learning in such a group makes this find extra remarkable.”

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