How Long Boi went from humble beginnings on York’s campus to international fame

Rest in Pond, legend

After a week of fear and panic over Long Boi’s wellbeing, yesterday the University of York officially confirmed he had passed away. The uni said: “Following a period of almost two months without a confirmed sighting of Long Boi, we are today forced to conclude that he has passed away.”

Since then, tributes have been pouring in for the UK’s tallest and most loved duck including doughnuts, ChatGPT poems, a Long Boi club night, and even a two minutes’ quack on Greg James’ BBC Radio One Breakfast Show.

With over 60k followers on Instagram, Long Boi was a much-loved character not only in York and the UK but also worldwide. But have you ever wondered how Long Boi achieved his fame?  Here is a deep dive into Long Boi’s life and fame and how he came to be the world’s most famous duck:

Origin story

Little is known about Long Boi’s exact origins, but it is believed he was left on campus as an unwanted pet at some point during 2019. He was an Indian Runner Duck crossed with a Mallard and believed to have stood at 70cm tall. At first, he seemed out of place from the other ducks and geese at the lake. The University’s Grounds and Ecology Manager even said Long Boi was a “duck out of place” and that “he shouldn’t be here”.

Instagram account

York graduate Zoe Duffin then decided to set up an Instagram account dedicated to Long Boi. She said: “We started feeding and taking photos of him, coining the name Long Boi due to his tall stature. We did feel a bit sorry for him, as he didn’t fit in with all the other ducks and was being shunned by them, he seemed quite lonely.”

Long Boi’s loneliness then became a thing of the past as he quickly became well-known around campus with students often stopping to feed and take pictures of him as his Instagram following grew.

Campus celebrity

As a result of his Instagram, Long Boi established himself as a campus celebrity around York. A Long Boi society was set up in his honour and he even had his own line of merch. The society described itself as “For anyone who enjoys getting out for a walk with a focus upon feeding the local waterfowl (including LongBoi) and other wildlife.”

Long Boi became The University of York’s unofficial mascot.

Viral Reddit post

Then Long Boi’s fame really started to pick up when a post on Reddit’s Photoshop battles named him as the tallest mallard to ever have lived at one metre tall. Though this isn’t true, the post attracted huge attention and memes of Long Boi began to take over social media as he became a viral sensation.

Celebrities also got involved with Long Boi’s fame with 6ft 7 footballer Peter Crouch calling him “My kind of duck”.

York alumni and YouTuber Phil Lester also got involved in the Long Boi craze tweeting: “This is just a photo of me when I went to this uni”.

James Corden’s Late Late Show

Long Boi was reported on by many national news sites including ITVThe Sun and Buzzfeed but most famously, he was spoken about on the popular US talk show, James Corden’s Late Late Show. James Corden said: “A duck in England has gone viral because he’s just a tall duck.

“Look at that duck. It’s amazing, a worthy story.”

On Long Boi’s newfound international fame, Zoe Duffin, owner of Long Boi’s Instagram said: “I think everyone at York can say we are all very proud of Long Boi, our waterfowl are very loved and central to the university experience here at York.

She continued: “I can’t quite believe it! My one aspiration for Long Boi’s account was to reach 10k followers, he’s reached and passed that in just a matter of hours, which is incredible. I’m loving seeing all the memes, and hearing how much joy he’s spreading to others.”

April Fools’ jokes

Amid Long Boi’s celebrity status, we have also tricked his fans for April Fools’ Day reporting that Long Boi was to be awarded an honorary degree for all he has done for the university. A petition was then even set up to give Long Boi his degree.

The following year, we reported that York’s logo was changing to feature Long Boi in it. Iconic if you ask me.

BBC Radio One Breakfast Show

BBC’s Greg James and Long Boi have a long history. Greg James first featured Long Boi on his show in 2021 as he established himself as one of the duck’s biggest fans. Then Greg James said he’d like his final ever guest on the Breakfast Show to be Long Boi.

The university then started campaigning to get Long Boi on the show. The official uni Twitter account tweeted and also messaged Greg James from Long Boi: “Hi Greg, I am listening and patiently waiting for my time to shine. I’ll be happy to join you on the Breakfast Show at the quack of dawn. Love, Long Boi.”

Greg responded: “Thank you to Long Boi for sending me that message. Here’s my dilemma. I really want to have Long Boi on the show. I really don’t want to stop doing the show. And I’m worried also, how long do ducks live?” That definitely did not age well.

But luckily, Long Boi’s wish to feature on The Breakfast Show came true before his untimely death. On the 7th March Long Boi actually featured on the show and quacked into the microphone for Greg James.

After Long Boi pecked the phone, Greg said: “Well can you give him a little kiss back from me and thank you so much for arranging the duck to quack this morning.”

Long Boi tattoos

Many York students decided to honour Long Boi even further by getting a tattoo of him. Abbey, a final-year sociology student, decided to get a Long Boi tattoo as a way to remind her of her time at York. She told The York Tab: “I really like Long Boi so thought it would make a cool tattoo.”

Then, more recently, Tom Howes another York student also got a Long Boi tattoo whilst in Portugal on a trip with the Uni’s Volleyball Club.

Disappearance and tributes

Sadly, two weeks ago The York Tab then reported York student’s growing concerns after Long Boi had not been seen in a number of weeks. The university then confirmed this, saying that Long Boi hadn’t been seen in a “few weeks” and that they “continue to keep a lookout for him and hope to see him again, safe and well, soon.”

Then yesterday, the university sadly confirmed that Long Boi had passed away.

Since the news of his death, tributes have been pouring in from Long Boi’s fans with thousands paying their respects to him in his Instagram comments. Some tributes include Long Boi Doughnuts made by Doe Bakehouse and a two-minute quack on today’s Radio One Breakfast Show.

A York Club night is even hosting a wake for Long Boi tonight and giving 20 per cent of all profits to the RSPCA. If you have a photo or video of you feeding Long Boi, you even get a free shot.

In a post on Instagram, York’s Student Union said they were busy organising a fitting tribute to Long Boi. I vote for a Long Boi statue.

Rest in Pond, legend.

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