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The Peabody Ducks

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The Peabody Ducks

The Peabody Ducks

Photo Courtesy Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau
The famous Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis is more than just a nice place to stay. It is also home to one of the city's most famous -- and most peculiar -- attractions. Each day at 11:00 a.m., a parade of five mallard ducks, led by a "duckmaster," makes its way from the roof of the hotel down to the lobby. There, a red carpet is rolled out and John Philip Sousa's King Cotton March begins to play. The ducks march into the fountain of the Peabody's Grand Lobby. At 5:00 p.m., the ceremony is reversed when the ducks return to their rooftop home.

This unique tradition began in 1932 when the general manager of the hotel and one of his hunting buddies returned from a hunting trip in Arkansas. The pair thought it would be amusing to put their live duck decoys into the Grand Lobby's fountain. Intended as a prank, they had no idea how popular the ducks would be with hotel guests. Soon after this stunt, the live decoys were replaced by five mallard ducks.

It was in 1940 that a bellman named Edward Pembroke offered to help train the ducks. Pembroke had once worked as a circus animal trainer and soon taught the ducks to march. He was made the official Peabody Duckmaster and kept that title until he retired in 1991.

The ducks, themselves, have been rotated over the years. In fact, each team of five ducks (one male and four females) only work for three months before they retire. The ducks are raised by a local farmer and are returned to the farm when they retire.

No trip to Memphis would be complete without a visit to the Peabody Ducks. You do not have to be a guest of the hotel to see the ducks march. In fact, visitors are encouraged to come in each day and witness this fun spectacle. If, however, you would like to stay in the Peabody Hotel, click here for current room rates and specials.

The Peabody Hotel
149 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 529-4000

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