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Posted on: Friday - Mar 25, 2016

Memphis is known around the world for Graceland, Beale Street and of course, The Peabody Ducks.

The Peabody Hotel, along with the Peabody Ducks, are not only one of the main attraction in Memphis, they are one of the top reasons why people from all over the world visit Memphis in the first place. People line up to see the ducks waddle down the red carpet every day, and it is always a great show.

The Peabody Hotel is a staple in Tennessee and has been known as the “living room of the South.” Of course it is a beautiful historic hotel and is great all on its own, but what makes it so special are the infamous Peabody Ducks. The ducks are known for the twice daily tradition of marching down the red carpet and spending their days in The Peabody Hotel fountain located in the lobby.

These ducks are given the royal duck treatment at the hotel. They live in their very own Royal Duck Palace, located on the roof of the hotel, with a birds-eye view of the Mississippi River and Downtown Memphis. In their penthouse, they are provided with granite flooring, a bronze duck-sized pond and their very own duck-sized Peabody Hotel. These ducks have it made at the Peabody. But although they are given the royal treatment, they are, of course, wild ducks and trained professionals.

The ducks are trained and taken care of by the Duckmaster, Anthony Petrina. Petrina has been the Duckmaster for a little over 4 years. He went to school at the University of Memphis where he studied hotel management and immediately fell in love with The Peabody Hotel. He began waiting tables at the hotel and eventually became the supervisor. When the previous Duckmaster decided to retire, the role was offered to Petrina. He is only the fifth Duckmaster in the hotel’s history. The first Duckmaster, Edward Pembroke, held the position for 50 years.

“It is one of those jobs offers you don’t refuse,” Petrina said.

The process of choosing the Peabody Ducks is not an easy one. The Peabody has been using the same local family farm for over 35 years to help raise the ducks that will become the Peabody Ducks. The farm brings over a few sets of five to six ducks and they “audition” for the role. The ducks are chosen by how well they interact with each other and with the Duckmaster himself.

The ducks are trained by the Duckmaster and remain at The Peabody for three months.  After the three months are up, they are returned to the family farm where they stay until they are ready to go back to the wild, which usually takes about a year. With a return to the great outdoors in mind, the hotel recognizes its resident waterfowl as wild animals and does not domesticate them or treat them like pets.

The Peabody Duck March has become a traditional all on its own, but a lot goes into making sure the march is done correctly. The ducks march in at exactly 11 a.m. every day, no matter what. At 11 a.m. the ducks come out of the elevator and waddle down the red carpet, making quite an entrance. Children and adults of all ages gather by the elevators in anticipation of the ducks’ arrival.

The ducks remain in the fountain until 5 p.m. and then return to the Royal Duck Palace at the end of each day.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you do, you want to watch the ducks waddle on the red carpet. It is one of those good, pure Southern traditions that sticks with you,” Petrina said.

To learn more about The Peabody Hotel and the Peabody Ducks, visit peabodymemphis.com.