Photo/IllutrationNine ducklings cross a street in Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward on May 21. (Provided by the Kawabata Police Station)

  • Photo/Illustraion

KYOTO--Eleven police officers here stopped traffic to get their ducklings in a row.

In what has become an annual event, ducks hatched at a pond at Yohoji temple in Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward waddled on a perilous journey to their new home in the Kamogawa river, about 700 meters away, on May 21.

The nine ducklings started their walk around 6:45 a.m., but about 100 meters from the pond, the parents flew away, leaving their offspring in an alley in a residential area.

The ducklings quacked and tried to return to the pond. However, Hiroko Sumitomo, 74, who lives nearby and has been taking care of the birds, guided them to the river by luring them with lettuce, their favorite food.

The 11 officers from the Kawabata Police Station halted cars to protect the ducklings as they walked through a pedestrian crossing.

The scene drew a crowd of onlookers, who gave a cheer after the ducklings completed their 90-minute walk and swam in the river.

“I was relieved when they arrived at the river safely,” Sumitomo said. “But I still have anxieties because all of them are children. Therefore, I will go to the Kamogawa river for the time being to check on their situation.”

The ducklings were born in April.

Ducks have moved from the pond to the river around this time every year since 2005, when they began to lay eggs in the pond.