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Not all ideas conceived with whiskey and hunting buddies turn out to be good ones.
But keeping ducks in the fountain of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee has proven to be a notable exception.
In 1932, the general manager of the Peabody and his friend returned to the hotel after a weekend hunting trip. Still a bit tipsy on Jack Daniels, they decided to leave a few of their live duck decoys in the travertine marble fountain located in the lobby. The ducks were such a hit with guests that the hotel fountain has not been fowl-free since.
In fact, the ducks have become the hotel’s biggest attraction, even drawing celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and Jimmy Carter. Daily at 11 am, the hotel’s Duckmaster leads five Mallard ducks (one male and four females) down a red carpet to the fountain. The ducks march to John Philip Sousa’s King Cotton March as onlookers snap photos and clap. At 5 pm, the ducks march back to the elevator, which returns them to the rooftop Royal Duck Palace, where guests can also catch a glimpse of them through glass windows during off-hours.
The ducks only work at the hotel for three months before retiring to a nearby farm, and a new set is brought in to be trained by the resident Duckmaster. Guests interested in being an honorary Duckmaster can book the Ducky Day package, which includes the privilege of helping the Duckmaster lead the daily march and an official brass-head Duckmaster cane to take home.
After a long day watching waterfowl, guests can grab a bite at the hotel’s on-site restaurant Chez Philippe, though the French eatery eschews one traditional dish. Those wishing to dine on duck will just have eat elsewhere.