Peabody Ducks – Off the path tourism

In keeping with tradition (ziplining across Wembley pitch, watching the Christmas Pudding Race, kayaking under the Pont du Gard aqueduct – post to come), we had to do at least one random thing. After some lunchbreak Google-researching (Gearching?), my heart was stolen by a 5 star hotel’s feathered friends.

Because I couldn’t pack you all into my suitcase (I could have fitted two readers in tops, and then one would have to stay behind to make room for my Buttermilk Pancake powder boxes) how could I pick!? We took a video. Yep, an Adventures of a London Kiwi exclusive. In keeping with my usual blog practice I’m not in it. I am not hamming it up, making a pouty duck face or at all, because I don’t like photos. Ironic, no?


Yes, I am just a big kid at heart and I am the first to admit it, but the child to adult ratio was roughly 2:6 so I’m not alone, and I’m a huge animal lover.

The ducks are kept humanely with a surprising minimum of human interaction – they can’t be touched in the fountain, and their Duck Master dotes on them, guiding them only with a stick in the most general of movements. At the end of the day they go back to their ‘duck palace’, an opulent residence solely for their use.

The ducks are trained by a Hollywood animal trainer, and kept for 5 years before being tagged and released back into the wild, whereby they normally live to up to 13 (a lot of wild ducks apparently only live until 8.

The tradition of the ducks started in the Peabody Memphis hotel 76years+ ago, and was introduced as a unique selling point for it’s sister hotels.

It’s free to go and you don’t have to be a guest, just rock up & ask the reception desk where to go. Try and get there early to get the best viewing seat.

How did the tradition of the North American Mallard ducks in the lobby fountain of The Peabody Memphis begin? Back in the 1930s, Frank Schutt, general manager of The Peabody Memphis, and his life-long friend, Chip Barwick, returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. The men had had a little too much Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, and thought it would be funny to place some of their live ducks (it was legal then for hunters to use live decoys), into the black travertine fountain of the Peabody hotel.

Three small English call ducks were selected, and the reaction was nothing short of enthusiastic. Thus began a Peabody tradition that was to become internationally famous. The original ducks have long since gone, but after 75 years, their progeny live on in the graceful, marble fountain in “The South’s Grand Hotel,” The Peabody Memphis, and also at The Peabody Little Rock and The Peabody Orlando. The Peabody Duck March takes place twice daily at 11am and 5pm.

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