Nature group protests French charity plastic duck race

Environmental activists in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie) have called for the cancellation of a “duck race” tombola that would see thousands of numbered, plastic bathtime-style toy ducks dropped into the Garonne river.

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The fundraising Duck Race event - which is raising money for several causes including one for autistic children and another for disadvantaged families - plans to sell each plastic duck for €3.

In the style of a raffle or a tombola, each duck would then be numbered and released simultaneously into the river, to follow its current along a certain section of water.

The ducks that arrive first would win prizes for their buyers.

The event is scheduled for Sunday September 23. It is organised by Rotoract, an offshoot of Rotary International that describes itself as a society to “improve the wellbeing of those around us” and create “useful action at a local level”.

But a local nature association, Robins des Bois, believes that the tombola is counter-productive, and will damage the river and surrounding environment.

In a statement, it said: “This initiative is negative and contradictory. It is inviting people to throw plastic and rubbish into our rivers and waterways.”

The group has demanded that Rotoract “stop the promotion of this farce” and are asking the local Mairie to forbid this “aquatic tombola”.

In their defence, the organisers of the Duck Race have said that “all precautions have been taken to avoid ‘escapes’ by the ducks” and any “long term pollution”.

They said: “The ducks will be held in by floating barges that will allow them to float down the river without us losing a single one.”

Further boats, along with nets, will be used after the event to pick up all the ducks and ensure that the river and its banks are clean, the organisers added.

It is not the first time that a Duck Race has taken place recently; in April this year, we reported on another one in Omer (Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France), which released 12,000 ducks into the Aa river, and raised money for multiple children’s charities.

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