Peabody Ducks go from pond to penthouse | News
MEMPHIS, TN- (WMC-TV) – Crowds gather in the grand lobby of the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis to watch the march of the famous Peabody Ducks every day, but there's a lot they don't know about these feathered friends and what happens before and after they make it to the red carpet.
The world famous Peabody Ducks are rock stars of the red carpet twice a day.
Anthony Patrina is the Peabody Hotel's newest duck master. It's a dream job for a guy who grew up in Memphis and has the utmost respect for the tradition and his predecessors.
"I had always admired the man in the red coat marching the ducks," Patrina said.
But there's a lot more to his job than pomp and circumstance.
Patrina must train each team of ducks.
A new crew of one-year-olds is brought in from a local farm every three months.
The drake and four hens relocate to their posh, rooftop palace where they spend a couple of days bonding and dining on a nutrient filled dry food.
And then it's time to get to work.
They only have about two days to learn their routine - walking across the rooftop and on to the elevator bound for the lobby.
The elevator is as far as their training goes, because there's no time to practice in the lobby.
Their first dip in the fountain will be in front of a crowd.
How do they know where to go?
The secret is the red stairs.
"Hopefully they associate red stairs leading up to water," said Patrina. "So when we go downstairs the link is nice and strong. They go down the red carpet, see red stairs and they hop right up and hop right in."
Before their debut, Patrina warms up the crowd with a few historic highlights.
Then it's time for the ducks' inaugural march.
Later, a snack of cracked corn arrives in a silver platter.
Their relationship with their duck master must remain professional, so they don't forget their place in the wild.
"While they're training, I don't handle them if I can avoid it," Patrina said. "I don't feed them out of my hand as incentive or anything. I mean, I don't even get to name the little guys."
When the new team takes over, veteran ducks make a few personal appearances before it's time to go back to the farm where they will are released into the wild.
But for a few months they get the royal treatment. They're feathered celebrities carrying on an age old tradition.
The Peabody doesn't reveal the location of the farm where the ducks are selected or where they go back to retire - that's the one secret hotel staff will not share.
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