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Regional & National

Peabody celebrates 80 years with famous ducks

May 27th, 2013 1:00 pm by Associated Press

Peabody celebrates 80 years with famous ducks

The Peadbody Hotel ducks take their daily walk through the hotel's lobby. (AP Photo)

MEMPHIS — The Peabody in Memphis is celebrating the 80th year of being graced by its most famous patrons — a team of ducks that swims in a fountain in the lobby.

This year, the hotel is celebrating the arrival of the fowl guests by sharing facts about their iconic mascots during the traditional twice-a-day duck march.

Duckmaster Anthony Petrina told The Commercial Appeal the ducks don't get names, but that may be so he doesn't get too attached to them.

Petrina wears his distinct red sport coat with its black collar, gold buttons and gold embroidery, even when cleaning up the duck palace.

"Alfred didn't serve Batman in a T-shirt," he said.

The birds moved into the hotel in 1933 when the manager and his friends returned from a hunting trip drunk and put live English call ducks in the fountain.

The marches started in 1940 when former circus trainer and duckmaster Edward Pembroke offered to train the ducks.

Their lair is in the highest room the Peabody offers (also known as the roof) and is furnished with a marble fountain. When the ducks are in the lobby fountain, lunch is served on a silver platter, said Kelly Earnest, Peabody Hotel spokeswoman.

"While the ducks are spoiled here at the hotel, they are not domesticated," Earnest said. "We don't touch the ducks. We give them as little human contact as possible so they can go back into the wild after they retire."

The ducks go to a farm in Shelby County after three months of duty.

Peggy Jo Clark, of Los Angeles, loved watching the children that came from two Memphis-area schools to see the parade.

"It was like watching a piece of history," Clark said. "They've managed to maintain all the traditions."

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com


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