WESTFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — The death of Ozzie the Duck, the unofficial mascot of Stanley Park in Westfield continues to shock and sadden animal and nature lovers here in Western Massachusetts.
While police continue to follow-up leads that a group of teenagers attacked and killed Ozzie, people keep showing up at Stanley Park to enjoy the duck pond and reminisce about Ozzie.
And while there may be many people wondering why so much is being made about the death of a duck, all you need to do is talk to the folks who worked at Stanley park and the people who visit the park, and you know immediately how special this little guy was.
People say we’re judged by the way we treat our children and the way we treat our animals. And that’s why the death of Ozzie the Duck is so troubling.
“I called him the character of the park,” said Donna Herman, a volunteer who first discovered Ozzie more than three years ago. “He was just such a unique duck. Of course the children would come and feed him and pick him out of the whole group since he was so unique.”
On a typical fall morning at Stanley Park the expansive water foul population was causing its usual commotion while being fussed over and fed. All the while homemade cards from area children hung on the covered bridge where a few days earlier Ozzie the duck was brutalized by a group of teenagers.
Ozzie, the Muscovy duck, best known for his friendly manner and signature red bill, was a favorite at Stanley Park. His violent end has shocked animal lovers all over Western Mass, and the outpouring of attention has been heartwarming for the people who knew Ozzie best.
“This has really shown some real family caring about what is here and especially the animals that are here too,” said Bob McKean, Managing Director at Stanley Park.. “Its been overwhelming. I knew it was here but boy, now I’ve witnessed it as well. I can’t thank everybody enough for everything they’ve done for us.”
“Just to have an unusual visitor to blend in with the rest of the ducks and geese and the swans that are down there, said Donna Herman. “As I said, he thought he was a goose anyway, he was a very large duck. He ate with them and sometimes would lead them in a procession across the covered bridge. He was just lot’s of fun to watch.”
Especially fun to watch for people like Andy Whalen and his grandson Christopher. They’ve been regulars at Stanley Park ever since Christopher was a baby. On this particular morning there were still plenty of ducks and geese to feed, but grandpa did take time out to explain why Ozzie wasn’t there anymore.
“As a Grandfather, what do you tell him? “Well I told him that there’s some people that just don’t have the common sense to just be nice to nature and nice to animals, said Whalen “Hopefully he learn from the experience of coming here and feeding the ducks and treating the animals the way they should be treated.”
“He did stand out because he was a different color, said Paula Hepburn of Russell. “He had the red beak, the red bill. ”
“He looked like the ugly duckling from the Ugly Duckling story. You couldn’t miss him.”
While police continue to investigate, the folks at Stanley Park gave Ozzie a proper burial in a prominent place in the park.
If you have any information regarding the case you’re encouraged to call Westfield Police at (413) 562-5411.