By Mike IsbellUniversity of GeorgiaBaby animals and baby humans are a lot alike in one sense:they’re both cute — well, except for baby buzzards (those thingsare ugly).Baby chicks and ducks, especially, are cute — for a while. Butthey grow into large, mature animals fairly quickly and losetheir cuteness even quicker.Hundreds of baby chicks and ducks and even baby rabbits arebought this time of year and given to small children as Easterpresents. And I can tell you from personal experience whathappens when a child gets one of these Easter pets.Lindsay’s duckMy oldest daughter, Lindsay, was about 2 years old when her PapaBill gave her a baby duck for Easter. Lindsay loved it. As amatter of fact, she almost loved it to death.”Lindsay! Don’t tote the duck by its neck!” we would tell her aswe pried the poor duck out of her tightly clasped hand.For the first week, the duck was small enough to stay in a bigbox in the house, and everything was fine. My daughter loved thatfuzzy little yellow ball with a head and two feet. And I mustadmit, I kind of liked the “cheep, cheep” sound it made.Occasionally changing the paper bedding in the box and makingsure the duck had plenty to eat and drink was about all we had todo to keep it.Ducks growBut as time went on, the duck wouldn’t stay in the box. And if itdid, I sort of wished it hadn’t because of the mess it would makein the box. I guess it was a whole lot better to have the mess inthe box than all over the house.Give a duck enough time, and nature has a definite plan for it.It wasn’t long before the fuzz changed to feathers, the “cheep”changed to “quack,” the cute changed to ugly and the duck wentoutside.An Easter duck outside creates other problems. For one thing, Imust have been firmly imprinted into the heart and mind of thatduck. It thought I was its mama. I couldn’t go anywhere outsidewithout that stupid duck following right at my heels.Finding a homeI carried it to the pond in the pasture behind our house, whereit swam contentedly until it realized I’d left it there. A duckin a big hurry can waddle really fast. It almost beat me back tothe house.And I didn’t dare go outside barefooted. I didn’t like coldsurprises on the bottom of my bare foot.By now, Lindsay had all but forgotten about the duck. So I put itwith other ducks in a friend’s pond several miles away. It stayedthis time.If you’re thinking about giving a baby animal as an Easterpresent, please consider the parents. Ask if they really want oneand if they can and will take care of it.Consider the animal itself. Far too many of these animals arecruelly abandoned. They deserve better than that.Yes, baby animals are cute. But they don’t stay that way.