The next morning we were up and off to the Peabody Hotel. The Peabody dates back to 1869 when the original hotel opened on Main & Monroe and immediately became the social and business hub of Memphis. 1925 was a newer and more grand hotel opening at the present location of Union and 2nd Street and continuing the lofty tradition. However, that is not the reason we were there.
We were there to see the very famous Peabody Ducks! The ducks live on the roof of the Peabody and take the elevator down to parade across the lobby to the fountain every day at 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM.
...........The Legend of the Ducks
How did the tradition of the ducks in The Peabody fountain begin? Back in the 1930s Frank Schutt, General Manager of The Peabody, and a friend, Chip Barwick, returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. The men had a little too much Tennessee sippin' whiskey, and thought it would be funny to place some of their live duck decoys (it was legal then for hunters to use live decoys) in the beautiful Peabody fountain. Three small English call ducks were selected as "guinea pigs," and the reaction was nothing short of enthusiastic. Thus began the internationally famous Peabody Duck tradition.
In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became The Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement in 1991.
Nearly 90 years after the inaugural march, ducks still visit the lobby fountain at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
The Peabody Duckmaster
They step out of the elevator and parade across the lobby to the fountain.
There are five North American Mallards...one Drake (male) and four hens. Of course, you can guess who the colorful one with the white collar and green head is. The ducks don't have names but the three original ducks were Peabody, Gayoso, and Chisca after the first three hotels owned by the Memphis Hotel Company.
Duck is NEVER on the menu at the Peabody so the Chez Philippe may be the only French restaurant in the world that doesn't serve duck.
When off-duty, the ducks live in a $200,000 Royal Duck Palace on the roof.
Each team of Peabody Ducks is raised by a local farmer and a friend of the hotel. The team lives at the hotel for only three months before retiring from their duty and returning to the farm where they are free to live as wild ducks.
Raised by a local farmer and a friend of the hotel, each team of Peabody Ducks lives at the hotel for only three months before retiring from their duty and returning to the farm, where they are free to live as wild ducks. 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.
Knowing that they will return to the great outdoors, the hotel recognizes the ducks as wild animals and does not attempt to domesticate them or treat them as pets.
The Duck Walk has appeared on several television shows and as questions on Quiz shows.
The lobby of the hotel is beautiful. The piano played its own music to entertain the visitors.
It was a fun visit and we saw a couple more interesting things on our way back to the car.