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Royal Duck Palace on top of The Peabody hotel.
Royal Duck Palace on top of The Peabody hotel.

Peabody Ducks

Field review by the editors.

Memphis, Tennessee

When the Peabody Hotel put duck decoys in its ornate marble lobby fountain in 1932, they were such a hit that the hotel one-upped itself and put real ducks in the fountain the following year. They quickly became permanent residents, and since 1940 they've performed the "March of the Ducks" twice a day. At 11 AM a red carpet is unfurled, the "King Cotton March" is played, and five mallard ducks ride a special elevator from their Royal Duck Palace on the roof to the hotel lobby, then waddle directly into the stately marble fountain. At 5 PM the procedure is reversed.

Peabody Duck fans await the evening exit.
Peabody Duck fans await evening fountain exit procession.

On both ends the ducks are led by a human "duckmaster" in a scarlet-and-gold-trimmed jacket. Each duck team only lasts three months before they are retired. The first duckmaster, however, held the job for over 50 years.

The Royal Duck Palace underwent expensive renovations in 2008, upgraded from a metal cage and funky tent enclosure to a modern glass-enclosed penthouse.

Try to arrive early if you want to see the Marches. The Peabody lobby is usually packed with duck-happy shutterbugs jockeying for position.

Peabody Ducks

Peabody Hotel

149 Union Ave., Memphis, TN
Peabody Hotel. Downtown, on the south side of Union Ave. between S. 2nd and S. 3rd Sts.
March of the Ducks at 11 am and 5 pm. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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