By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: We were watching television the other night and I missed hearing which hotel has ducks walking through the lobby in the report. Not that I’ll be staying there but if the hotel is nearby I wouldn’t mind seeing this. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated.

A: I did some digging on this and discovered a historic hotel in Tennessee actually is home to five mallard ducks. Ever since the early thirties, the fountain of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis has been the place to be for duck sightings. The story goes that the then general manager Frank Schutt was a hunting enthusiast and back then live duck decoys were used. When he returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas, he’d leave the ducks in the hotel lobby fountain and much to the guests’ delight the ducks became so popular they became a fixture.

A longtime tradition, the ducks arrive daily at 11am from their rooftop perch via the elevator where they march in line to the tune of John Phillip Sousa’s King Cotton March along a red carpet toward the Italian travertine marble fountain.

The ducks float in the fountain until 5pm when they return to their rooftop dwelling. This procession was started in 1940 by a bellman who used to work in a circus as an animal trainer. Edward Pembroke was the hotel’s first Duckmaster. Since then there have been ample celebrities serving as Honourary Duckmaster among them: Oprah Winfrey, Queen Noor of Jordan and Larry King.

The Peabody Memphis is located at 149 Union Avenue. To visit their website log onto


dispatches | q&a | photos | film | fork | news | archives | links | search | store | submit | about | contact | home

All text & photos © 2002-09.