The giant inflatable rubber duck which has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since it sailed into Hong Kong two weeks ago was reduced to a sad deflated disc on Wednesday in the city’s harbour.
Duck mania has gripped Hong Kong since its arrival, with locals and tourists flocking to catch a glimpse of the 16.5-metre-tall (54-feet) artwork, conceived by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman.
But those who made the trip to Victoria Harbour to see it on Wednesday morning were left disappointed as the wind had firmly been taken out of the duck’s sails leaving it looking like a floating fried egg.
Organisers said that the duck had been deflated on Tuesday evening as part of scheduled maintenance work and that it would be towed to a shipyard on Wednesday for thorough checking.
“We scheduled a body check for these two days. If everything is fine we can inflate it as soon as possible and the public can appreciate it again,” said Andrew Yeung, advertising and promotions manager for waterfront shopping mall Harbour City, which is organising the duck exhibit.
Yeung added that the deflation had been announced on the Harbour City Facebook page on Tuesday night and also on signs around the piers.
“I know people are disappointed but we need to do the checking the overall condition. We don’t want to upset everyone.”
Yeung said he did not know when the duck would be re-inflated.
On a grey morning in Hong Kong tearful 45-year-old clerk Mirinna Chan reflected the feelings of visitors to the pier.
“The sky looks like it is crying for me — I took time off from work just to see the duck, now it is just a blob,” she told AFP. “It’s really our childhood dream, because when we bathed as children, we would have one or two of the rubber ducks next to us.”
Hong Kong has taken the bright yellow inflatable bird to its heart since it arrived on May 2 to cheering crowds, with stalls and shops throughout the city selling replicas and restaurants creating special duck dishes.
“The duck represents happiness for us,” 30-year-old office assistant Lee Chun-shing told AFP.
“It was the highlight of this place, but now the highlight is deflated, of course everyone is disappointed,” he said.
One man commenting on the Harbour City Facebook page said: “Kids were crying when they deflate the duck.”
Most visitors resorted to having their pictures taken with smaller rubber ducks on show nearby.
Since 2007 the duck has travelled to 13 different cities in nine countries ranging from Brazil to Australia in its journey around the world.
Hofman said he hopes the duck, which is due to stay in Hong Kong until June 9, will act as a “catalyst” for connecting people to public art.