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Boston's duckling statues put in cages to protest migrant detention centers

Boston's iconic "Make Way for Ducklings" art piece has been a staple in the city's public gardens for over 30 years. On Friday, the bronze ducklings were put in cages – a statement on the migrant detention centers at the southern border.

Artist Karyn Alzayer is responsible for the art installation, NPR radio station WGBH reports. Alzayer put the eight ducklings in cages two-by-two – and the mother duck was separated from them.

Each individual duck was wrapped in a foil blanket, much like the ones used at the detention centers. This was an important aspect of the installation, Alzayer said. The light Mylar material is designed to provide "warmth but not comfort," she said.

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Daud Alzayer snapped a photo of Karyn Alzayer's creation. The mylar blankets were an important detail for the artist. The light Mylar material is designed to provide, "warmth but not comfort," she explained. Daud Alzayer

"The mallards are Boston's quintessential immigrant family," Alzayer told WGHB "In the book they moved here for a better life." The artist said she hopes the installation would spark a conversation.

The duckling statues, made by Nancy Schon in 1987, are based on characters in Robert McCloskey's classic children's book, according to CBS Boston. The story also inspired Alzayer, who explained why she chose this location for her installation.

"In the book, the ducklings were looking for a place to stay," Alzayer told WGHB. "If that were to happen during today's climate, this would be their fate."

"The statue is so beloved in the city. It's a metaphor about who we get upset about caging and who we don't," she said.

Alzayer's husband, Daud Alzayer, snapped a photo of the art installation and wrote about it on Facebook. "It only stayed up for a few hours before park staff made it disappear, but I think the image speaks loudly even in a single photo," he wrote. 

This is not the first time an artist used cages to comment on the crisis at the border. Last month, the nonprofit RAICES partnered with ad agency Badger & Winters to scatter about 20 cages across New York City.

Inside the cages were models of children sobbing. They were reminiscent of the images coming out of U.S. border facilities, where migrants who tried to cross without legal documentation now sleep in cramped, fenced-in areas under foil blankets. 

The children inside the New York City cages were part of RAICES' #NoKidsInCages campaign. Each emitted an eery crying sound. They were strategically placed outside of media companies, city landmarks and tourist destinations, and then swiftly removed.

Last year, a church in Indiana put Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus statues inside a cage on a church's front lawn. Christ Church Cathedral said the Holy Family has been placed in "ICE detention."

CBS News has reached out to Karyn and Daud Alzayer for more information on the "Make Way for Ducklings" cage installation. 

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The Holy Family was put inside a cage on a church lawn. The Indiana congregation wanted to make a statement on the small, fenced-in areas, used to hold families at migrant detention centers. Christ Church Cathedral
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