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A Peacock in the Big City

A Peacock in the Big City

 

Recently, there have been a few animals that have escaped from zoos in the New York metropolitan area, gotten their own Twitter accounts and garnered their share of media coverage (the Bronx Zoo Cobra and the Jersey Baboon for example). Now, we add the Central Park peacock to the list.

Or rather, the Fifth Avenue peacock. After leaving his open-air aviary in the Central Park Zoo on Tuesday, said peacock came to perch just across the street, five stories above street level at 838 Fifth Avenue near 65th Street, says the New York Times City Room blog. The inevitable “it’s a peacock!” crowds and the aforementioned Twitter account (it’s been dubbed BirdOnTheTown) followed.

Zoo director Jeff Sailer suggested that all that attention was actually getting in the way of the peacock flying back home.

“Peafowl routinely roost high in trees at dusk and stay there until dawn,” the zoo’s director, Jeff Sailer, said in a statement. (The peacock was still on the windowsill at 9 p.m. [Tuesday, August 2])

“They also seek high places when they feel threatened,” Mr. Sailer said. “We are working to resolve this situation and ask the public and representatives of the media to refrain from doing anything that would encourage the bird to move before it is ready to do so. Home is a short flight across the avenue.”

Around 6:45am this morning (Wednesday), the peacock flew back to the zoo and is now “secured in an aviary.” It’s not yet clear if he is being kept in his former open-air aviary or a new enclosed space.

Sailer emphasized that “a thorough understanding of the peacock’s natural behavior allowed for the successful planning of its recovery.” The midtown peacock, who mostly did a lot of perching, was behaving appropriately for its species and for someone/bird who’d taken up temporary residence on a building in which a 4,500-square-foot apartment went on the market for $24 million in 2009. (The Jersey Baboon was a bit of a tougher gal, with local police and animal patrols on the lookout as she roamed in the suburbs and, at one point, on the NJ Turnpike.)

Animals that have escaped from zoos (and their fictional adventures, delivered via Twitter) have made for some intrigue of a more light-hearted sort this summer. But it feels necessary to ask: What’s with all the reports of animal escapees from zoos and (in the case of Jersey Baboon) safari parks? The urban jungles of New York and of New Jersey (which is full of cars and congestion, so a bit more urban than might be thought) are not very friendly environments for wildlife. Are zoos doing enough to take care of their charges and keep them safe?

 

Related Care2 Coverage

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UPDATE: Jersey Baboon Started Her Long Weekend Early

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Photo by Howard N2GOT

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44 comments

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12:49PM PDT on Mar 17, 2015

Thank goodness he is home where no one can hurt him. I am sure the day out was a bit fun.

1:16AM PDT on Mar 17, 2015

Back to the photo. Yes, the bird knew he could get some food from people, but it's not a secure and constant food supply, so he preferred to go home... and enjoy the company of peahens.

1:13AM PDT on Mar 17, 2015

I've seen wild peacocks going to roost. They flew into the lower branches of a tree. then worked their way up, one branch at a time, for the feeling of security birds get when they are high up.

If this bird was in an open-topped aviary, to prevent escape, he needed to have his wings clipped, and the keeper apparently didn't notice that some flight feathers had regrown. If people dislike wing-clipping - and I do! - then he should have been in a very big aviary with a roof.

Birds can escape to explore, but as soon as they get hungry (very soon) they often discover they've forgotten the way home! This bird knew the way back to food, food, and more food, instead of the scant pickings he would find on the street! Or did he charm people at street cafes to give him (unsuitable and indigestible?) titbits?

4:11PM PDT on Mar 16, 2015

I've been in quite a number of places where peacocks turned up, but not usually in the city!

Almost all birds feel safer roosting high up, and many prefer to be higher rather than lower during the day as well.

4:34PM PDT on Mar 13, 2015

How many get to say they had coffee with a peacock!

7:41AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

8:20PM PST on Nov 24, 2012

Must have been a sight to remember seeing a peacock roost in the city !

5:21AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

i hope they are safe...thanks for sharing

10:12PM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

Good post. Thank you.

7:31PM PDT on Sep 17, 2011

cool story.

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