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Sanctuary throws birthday party for 17-year-old duck

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April 2 (UPI) -- An animal sanctuary in Rhode Island threw a party to celebrate an unusual milestone: a rescued duck's 17th birthday.

The West Place Animal Sanctuary threw a birthday party Monday for Erna, a crested pekin duck rescued in 2007.

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Wendy Taylor, founder and executive director of West Place Animal Sanctuary, said Erna isn't just a resident at the sanctuary, she's also volunteered her time with dozens of ducklings, goslings, poults, chicks and cygnets.

"She is an incredibly special duck, and her motherly instincts have helped us save lives and raise orphaned birds at the sanctuary," Taylor told WLNE-TV.

Taylor told The Newport Buzz that Erna is a "constant source of inspiration and joy."

"Her maternal instincts have not only saved lives but also enriched the lives of both humans and animals alike," she said.

Crested pekin ducks typically live about 12 years.

"This is a major milestone for Erna," Taylor said. "For a variety of reasons, farm animals do not often make it to old age. She has given the humans and the animals of West Place so much and in turn, West Place has given Erna the greatest gift of all -- the opportunity to grow old."

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Erna still has a ways to go if she wants to earn the Guinness World Record for oldest duck ever. The title belongs to a pair owned by Gladys Blackbeard of Grahamstown, South Africa, who lived to the age of 49.

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