DeFuniak Springs - Earlier this week we told you some peacocks from Northwest Florida are making their movie debut in "We Bought a Zoo," the movie that's in theaters now. Several peacocks and peahens from Rocking BAB Ranch in DeFuniak Springs were trained for the Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson movie. The film is a heartwarming tale of a family who lives in the middle of a zoo, much like the Nelson family who made the peacocks big screen appearance possible.
Rocking BAB Ranch in DeFuniak Springs is home to miniature donkeys, sheep, and even camels, but it's the exotic peacocks who really rule the roost. Joshua Nelson and his family raise 55 different varieties and export them all over the world. "We specialize in breeding new and different varieties of peacocks. We've shipped a lot of them to Europe. We've shipped some of them to South America, quite a few to Africa, we've sent quite a few to southeast Asia and the Java Islands so they've been to many different places," said Joshua Nelson, ranch manager.
Rocking BAB Ranch is the only farm in the US that exports peacocks. In December of 2010 they got a very interesting call. "It was from a gentleman who said he wanted to purchase some of our peacocks to train them for a movie and of course I giggled because we'd had some phone calls in the past from people wanting to train birds for commercials and things, but he ended up being serious," said Nelson.
The birds first went to Orlando for training, then to California for the film. A few months later Nelson sent 20 eggs so the cameras could capture footage of the pea chicks hatching. It wasn't until he saw the trailer that he realized the magnitude of the film.
The family hasn't seen the movie yet, but 6-year-old Amaris and 4-year-old Colton can't wait to see their feathered friends on the big screen. "They talk about going to see our peacocks in a movie, so they are really excited," said Nelson. Movie or no movie, the Nelsons are thankful for their unique place in the world. "We love it. It seems to be a dying thing in America, not that many people get to raise a family on a farm."
The Rocking BAB is a private ranch and not open for tours. For more information about pea-fowl and the ranch's other exotic animals click on this link to their website.