The ducks had been a fixture at the hotel for years, marching daily from their marble penthouse on the roof, into an elevator and through the lobby to the indoor fountain.
"It was a 5-minute escape from reality twice a day at 11 and 5," former hotel duck master Lloyd Withrow said.
That popular tradition ended this year the Peabody Hotel Group of Memphis wrapped up the sale of the Little Rock hotel to Marriott International Inc. The ducks were dropped off last spring at a nearby ranch where hunting isn't allowed, but the waterfowl did what came naturally and flew away, leaving them in harm's way during the duck-hunting season, which runs into late January in Arkansas, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
"I hate to think anybody would shoot one of my Peabody ducks," Odis Chapman, 79, who had raised the ducks that lived at the Peabody, told the Times.
He's not alone in missing the ducks. Bill Fontes, the hotel's general manager under the new Marriott regime, was talking with a co-worker recently about an upcoming duck-hunting weekend, the Times said. Bruce Skidmore, director of sales and marketing, stopped the conversation, intoning, "Bill, too soon."