Long Boi, the grand old duck of York, is presumed dead after going missing for several weeks, leaving behind grieving students at his favourite university watering holes.
The 70cm-tall drake was celebrated at the University of York for his unusual height and gregarious nature, delighting students with his appearances around campus for several years.
The university – where alumni include the former Times editor John Witherow and the comedian Harry Enfield – described the duck as “a much-loved character” but said that after two months without a confirmed sighting it had been “forced to conclude” that Long Boi had passed away.
“We appreciate this is not the resolution that many people were wishing for, but hope that acknowledging his passing allows us to focus on celebrating his life and commemorating the time he spent with us,” the university said.
“During his time on campus, Long Boi brought joy to staff, students, alumni and visitors to York. Our beautiful campus and wonderful grounds team provided a rich life for him during the four years he lived with us.”
Like many influencers, Long Boi first found fame on social media; his Instagram account, @longboiyork, has more than 60,000 followers. By 2021, he had been discussed on late-night US talkshows and was championed by the BBC Radio 1 presenter Greg James.
James paid tribute to the mallard on Thursday’s Radio 1 breakfast show, announcing plans for a quack-a-long ceremony.
“It’s not a minute’s silence because that’s not what Long Boi would have wanted,” James said.
The duck inspired a range of merchandise, including Valentine’s Day cards reading “I long for you” and Long Boi fanclub T-shirts, alongside “University of Long Boi” stickers.
But Long Boi was not the only animal with academic honours. At the University of East Anglia, a ginger cat named Sylvester regularly attends lectures and has its own T-shirts on sale through the students’ union.