Duck Tales

Children, pets and pretty faces: the good old publisher's formula. Hotels are after animals in general. At Raffles in Singapore a tame circus tiger, shot under the billiards room in 1902, created a legend and with it a successful selling formula that worked just fine for the hotel for the past 100 years.

The Peabody Ducks March

But that's nothing to the life performance you see at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee every day. First of all the hotel is advertised as Memphis only 5-ducks meeting hotel. It performs every day the famous duck march, choreographed by the original Duckmaster, Edward D. Pembroke, a retired animal trainer. He created the March of The Peabody Ducks, trained the ducks to march on the red carpet to the music of John Philip Sousa's King Cotton March. Pembroke retired from The Peabody Memphis after more than 50 years of dedicated service. Pembroke, who had been a circus animal trainer, joined the hotel as a bellman, but, he soon volunteered to care for the ducks.

While there's no official Peabody Duck species, The Peabody Ducks, those VIPs, Very Important Poultry, who are, indeed, named for George Peabody, the warehouse magnat who died in 1869, perform the twice-daily March of The Peabody Ducks at Peabody-flagged hotels, to the delight of all who come to see them 365 days a year.The new duckmaster is Daniel Fox. He was a fan of The Peabody Memphis and the hotel's VIPs (Very Important Poultry) long before he sought the position of Duckmaster.

In fact, Fox remembers that for years he read a storybook about the Peabody Ducks to his children who are now well beyond the bedtime story age. So, when Fox learned of the Duckmaster opportunity, he promptly applied for consideration for the prestigious title.After the hotel initiated a nationwide search in January, 2003 news of the open position spread, with the help of national media outlets including CNN and the CBS Early Morning Show. The Wall Street Journal created a special cartoon and text on the position. Applications poured in from all over the world. Submissions were received from Hollywood to SeaWorld, and even one from Indochina seeking to be the hotel's "goosekeeper."

Fox outshone the more than 250 applicants who wanted the position.As Duckmaster Fox is solely responsible for the care and wellbeing of the Peabody Ducks, including feeding, exercise, and training the teams for their daily march. It is a position Fox feels privileged to hold, and one he plans to retire from, albeit a distant 23 years away.In addition to his duties as Duckmaster, Fox gives tours of "The South's Grand Hotel," including the Memorabilia Room, which documents the history of the hotel and its place in the life and growth of downtown Memphis.