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Palm Beach Gardens Duck Killers Barely Rank Against History's Duck Murderers

Blain and Robert Aymond, the middle-aged duck killers of Palm Beach Gardens, have taken their place in history.

A judge on Tuesday declared the couple guilty of misdemeanor ducknapping after they hired a trapper last year to round up a gaggle of neighborhood ducks and ship them to a local animal shelter, where the animals were executed. The Aymonds are far from the first antidae murderers to make headlines, and they are certainly not the most prolific. Here, for your edification, are history's greatest abducktors.

Second Runner-Up: David Swain
The man: David Swain, duck killer, is putting Australian regional cuisine on the worldwide foodie map with his award-winning Fino Restaurant in Willamunga.
The crime: Swain's crispy-skinned duck breast, with beetroot, lentils, and broccolini, is the most beloved duck dish in the Southern Hemisphere, imitated by chefs from Adelaide to American Samoa.
The sentence: Swain's Fino was declared "Best Regional Restaurant" in the 2009 Adelaide Food Awards.

First Runner-Up: Sanford D'Amato
The man: Sanford D'Amato, duck killer, is one of America's most beloved chefs; he has been the subject of feature articles in Bon Appetit and has opened two fabulously successful restaurants: Sanford in 1989 and Coquette Cafe in 1999.
The crime: As a student at the Culinary Institute of America, D'Amato oversaw the pressing and dismemberment of perhaps thousands of ducks during a giddy two-month cooking spree in the Institute's Escoffier Room. He provided the room with an extra duck press -- a device used to squeeze the animal's natural juices into a sluice, where they are mixed with the duck's liver -- and set about preparing serving after serving of the muderous dish known as caneton à la rouennaise.
The sentence: Six James Beard Award nominations; invitation to cook for Julia Child's 80th birthday.

Winner: Hu Sihui
The man: Hi Sihui, duck killer, was the "imperial therapist" in the court of Buyantu Khan during the Yuan dynasty, in 14th-century China.
The crime: After a life spent cooking for royalty, Hi Sihui condensed the accumulated wisdom of his years into a slim manuscript called The Complete Recipes for Dishes and Beverages. Within its pages was the original recipe of the dish known as Peking duck. To date, millions of ducks have been massacred as a result.
The sentence: A private harem, the favor of royalty, immortality.

The Aymonds didn't kill millions of ducks -- in fact, they killed fewer than a dozen -- and rather than immortality or the favor of royalty, their crimes have earned them fines of $1,800. But they are, at least for the moment, in impessive company.

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Brandon K. Thorp

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