More than a dozen mallard ducks are spending the long weekend in rehab after being rescued from a mysteriously polluted pond in Surrey.

Emergency crews from the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC rescued the ducks from a pond in the Hazelmere RV Park near 8th Avenue. The manager of the RV park called in after discovering a smelly substance in the water.

Care centre coordinator Janelle VanderBeek says the rescue team corralled the ducks using a tunnel funnel system, then brought them to the Burnaby-based wildlife hospital for assessment and stabilization.

“The main concern with oil is a lack of thermo-regulation skills,” she says. “They’re all doing fairly well with that, but had it been any longer…they would have gone downhill very quickly and it would have been a much worse situation.”

All the ducks are now in stable condition, but are still quite oily. Volunteers began the lengthy cleaning process Friday afternoon.

The cause of the oily ponds remains a mystery, says VanderBeek. It’s believed someone dumped paint or another chemical into the water, but nothing has been confirmed.

“[The ducks] definitely smell like turpentine, it’s quite smelly, and the sheen on the water is orange,” she says. “So we’re guessing that it’s some kind of oil or turpentine-based paint, and we’re hoping that it can get cleaned up.”

Some residents of the RV park believe someone poured paint into the water on purpose.

“The ducks all ran over to a flat part over there and tried to get all the slime off themselves,” says resident Mike McCullogh. “I don’t think it was meant maliciously. I think it was a prank…and hopefully someone figured out it wasn’t a very good one.” 

Canadian Wildlife Service began cleaning the pond on Thursday, and turtles were discovered in the waters. Their fate is still unknown. 

The focus is now on cleaning the birds, says VanderBeek, noting each duck can take up to 90 minutes to clean. Some ducks will need to be washed multiple times, scrubbed with toothbrushes to remove the oil from their feathers. 

The endeavor is expected to last all the way through the long weekend. The hope is that the birds will eventually be released back into the pond they were found.

The Wildlife Rescue Association has been left to foot the mallards’ cleaning bill, and is asking the public for donations. Interested in supporting the clean-up effort? Visit:

With files from CTV Vancouver's Sheila Scott