Hidden danger in 'cute' TikTok: Viral animal clip sparks warning

A popular TikTok clip featuring a ferry passenger feeding a wild duck has led an expert to issue a warning.

Filmed in Lake Taupo, New Zealand, the video has accumulated over 630,000 views and more than 93,000 likes since it was posted to the social media platform on Thursday.

Passengers can be heard cheering and clapping as a large duck approaches the fast moving ferry.

Stills of the viral social media video that is of concern. Source: TikTok
Bird experts have singled out a tiny detail in a viral social media video that is of concern. Source: TikTok

The bird catches sight of an outstretched arm holding a piece of food, and to the delight of those on board, quickly snatches it.

At first glance, most comments from TikTok users appear largely supportive.

“Humanity being cute,” wrote one person.

“This is the best video I’ve ever seen in my life,” added someone else.

Viewers who caught the video early were urging for the video to go viral, but there were some keen-eyed TikTok users who raised a key concern.

Detail that has bird lovers concerned revealed

The detail that some wildlife lovers noticed is that the duck is being fed a chip.

While the bird appears to be an introduced mallard, and not a native species, human food like bread and chips are bad for their health.

Sean Dooley from BirdLife Australia told Yahoo News Australia said despite people getting “a lot of delight” from feeding ducks, giving them chips is “bad news”.

“Taking kids down to the duck pond is actually a great way to engage them in in nature and I think it's really worthwhile,” he said.

“When it comes to feeding ducks there are benefits to humans, but there's almost no benefit to the ducks.

"It's actually really problematic.”

Chips are high in fat and are often salted, meaning they are really poor in nutrition for ducks, Mr Dooley advises.

While bread is a more common choice than chips, it can pose an even bigger problem outside of the duck’s stomach, as uneaten fragments will often settle on the bottom of the pond and contribute to algal blooms.

Simple tip for wildlife lovers wanting to interact with birds

People who insist on feeding birds and care about their welfare should ensure the food they are providing is nutritious, but more importantly distributed in a clean area to avoid the spread of disease.

Lettuce and frozen peas and corn pose less of a problem for ducks, but when it comes to interacting with wild birds, Mr Dooley has an even better tip.

It's one that works for both humans and birds.

Birds enjoying a bird bath. Source: Getty
Providing water is a great way for wildlife lovers to interact with birds. Source: Getty

“The thing you can do to interact with birds in mutually beneficial way, especially as we head into summer is putting out water for birds,” he said.

“Bird baths or any any sort of thing that holds water, birds really love that and appreciate it.”

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