I found this news brief buried on page D6 of the South Bend Tribune
this morning (6/6/09):
Science Waddles Forward
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Maybe you've said it yourself, looking out a window as rain pours down: "Great day for ducks." Now, scientists in Great Britain have spent 300,000 British pounds (about $471,000) proving that[,] yes, ducks actually enjoy a nice shower.
Britain's Department of Environment, Food[,] and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] funded the three-year study, conducted by two researchers at the prestigious University of Oxford. The intent was to find out the best way to provide farm-raised ducks the water they crave.
The test ducks were placed in an environment where they could choose among a pond, a trough[,] and a shower. Most ducks took to the shower like, well, a duck to water. They spent a lot of time just standing under it and drinking the water as it fell.
Marian Stamp Dawkins, professor of animal behavior at Oxford, told the Guardian newspaper that the study was, too, practical. Duck ponds on farms quickly become dirty and unhygienic, she said. Showers give them the water they need and are more likely to keep them free of bacteria and other nasties.
We're not sure we'd pay half a million dollars to replicate this study, but if your kid is casting about for a science fair project for next year, just buy him [or her] a couple of ducks, a washtub[,] and a shower head. Title: "Making ducks Zestfully clean."
Predictably, news of the study has some Brits seeing red, with a spokeswoman for the Taxpayers' Alliance calling the research a "bonkers waste of money." Adventurous readers can find a sampling of reactions in the British press here