Lame-Duck Syndrome: Hong Kong’s Celebrated Inflatable Is Now a ‘Sad Deflated Disk’

Did it fall victim to bird flu or Hong Kong's notoriously bad air pollution?

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Rubber Duck — quite literally a giant rubber duck in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour — has been making waves throughout the city and across the continent since it was installed two weeks ago by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman in the skyscraper-ringed port. Chinese factories say sales of rubber ducks have soared, nearby hotels are advertising rooms that have great “duck views,” and yellow cakes shaped like ducks have been selling like, well, hotcakes.

But the city’s beloved installation deflated overnight on Tuesday, reducing the 54-ft. (16.4 m) duck to something that looked more like a deflated beach ball, “duck soup,” “an unappetizing fried egg,” or a “sad deflated disk.”

(PHOTOS: Giant Rubber Duck Floats in Hong Kong Harbor)

Here’s what the duck looked like when it was first installed on May 2:

HONG KONG-ART-DUCK

PHILIPPE LOPEZ / AFP / Getty Images

And here’s how it looked on May 15:

deflatedduck

PHILIPPE LOPEZ / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

Bloggers and journalists have joked that the duck must have fallen victim to bird flu or Hong Kong’s notoriously bad air pollution, while officials told CNN that the deflation was planned. Hong Kong’s largest shopping center, Harbour City, which helped organize the exhibition, tweeted at the public to stay tuned, explaining that the duck was just sleeping.

This is not the first time the duck has been the target of possible foul play — or “fowl play,” as CNN put it. When it was installed in Belgium in 2009, someone stabbed it 42 times. The duck’s creator told CNN that the vandalism “brought the people of that town together. The community had a stakeout at night and protected it and even the police looked after it. It shows that this piece of art means a lot to people in the vicinity of this work.” Before arriving in Hong Kong’s harbor, the artwork was also afloat in Amsterdam, Sydney, São Paolo and Osaka.

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