The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

There are no ugly ducklings: My experience coping with anxiety and raising ducklings

Photo courtesy of Emerson Wotanowski
Emerson Wotanowski with her ducks

“What the d*ck?” is exactly what my mother said when she found out I first bought a waterfowl without my parents permission. 

Flashback to 2020 while I was “cooped” up during COVID-19. I came across a TikTok account called, @ducks_in_space. The account highlighted ducklings who lived a seemingly boujee lifestyle in a suburban household in the state of California. They were clothed in sweaters, swimming in bathtubs, eating strawberries and peas, all while gaining piles of attraction to their page. 

Of course, after viewing these videos, I immediately knew I was meant to be a duck mom. 

Soon after, I went to, picked out the breed of ducklings I was going to raise and chose the date they would come. Once the purchasing process was complete, I had to conduct a plan on how to break the news to my parents. Horrified, I waited until I was out of the state and on vacation with my friend, to have my grandmother break the news to my mother. She explained that “your mom cursed like Satan,” and that she wanted me to return them. 

Safe to say it was too late to do so, and I ended up grounded for two months. However, it ended up being the best two months of my life as my family ended up falling in love with the ducklings and I was allowed to keep them. 

Despite my parents’ hesitation, I have continued to raise ducklings the last three years and it has brought endless amounts of happiness to my family and others. Growing up with anxiety, I was constantly trying to find resources to help myself cope with the mental struggles and raising these animals was the best kind of therapy I could have received. 

According to, “Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure.”

With all my focus now on these animals, I was able to forget my troubles as my primary attention was geared towards them, providing the ducklings a happy and healthy life. They gave me an escape from what was my current reality and it allowed me to reconnect with nature and spend the majority of my time outside all while forming an unforgettable and unique bond with a species that not many Jersey kids can say they have had.  

According to, “[Ducks] also help you stand out from other people with other types of pets. Having a bird as an emotional support animal helps you make conversation naturally. If you’re walking or cuddling with your duck in the park, a stranger will feel inclined to come up to you to find out more about the duck. This kind of interaction helps people suffering from mental health issues feel more relaxed and blend seamlessly into the world.”

With the help from my ducklings, I was able to pull myself out of a negative mindset and really begin to start my journey of opening back up to the world and other people. Even though my friends, family and loved ones were always supportive, my new pets gave us an excuse to truly embrace one another , providing us all with a new sense of peace.

Over the last three years of having the opportunity to raise ducklings, I can truly say this has been one of the most unique experiences I have had and I will forever be grateful for the relief they provided me in terms of my mental health. I also want to thank my parents for not grounding me for longer. 

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