It's the end of an era for Plumstead, as our famous wandering peacock is set to start his new life at a sanctuary tomorrow afternoon.
We've been pursuing the peacock, now named Percy, for months, with assistance from concerned local residents, but all of our capture attempts were unsuccessful until last night, when a local man managed to shut Percy inside his home and then got in touch through a mutual friend. This gentleman had already spoken to Dave Courtney, who confirmed that he was happy for the GWN to proceed with our plan to relocate Percy to a sanctuary. He also suggested to Dave that any reward money be donated to the charity, which was extremely kind.
Our volunteers Paige and Debbie were already on standby to head out if Percy was spotted, so shot over there and got him contained in an animal carrier fairly easily. When they arrived, he was staring at his reflection in a full-length mirror, transfixed.
Percy will spend a comfortable few days in a large enclosure, looked after by our amazing volunteer Debbie, before being transported to his new home tomorrow. There, he will need to initially be in another extra large enclosure to acclimate him to his new territory - one of the reasons that Percy likely immediately took off in the first place is that peacocks need to be introduced to a new area gradually - and also due to Avian Flu restrictions, but, in the long term he will be allowed to free roam. The sanctuary is also planning to introduce a pea hen so he will have company at last, and will no longer need to call so hopelessly for a mate.
I know Percy has become well-loved in the community, and that the sight of such a stunning and exotic bird has been a welcome break from the mundane. He has brightened the days of many Plumstead residents and will be sorely missed. I, too, had hoped that Percy would not need to be caught when the charity was first alerted, but the more we saw of him, and the more I spoke to experienced peacock keepers, the more apparent it became that Percy's living situation and chances of long-term survival were not positive.
We have to think of what is best for Percy, and an urban, heavily-built up area is far from ideal for a peacock, as they're well known for having no road sense. This is not the only risk to his safety, however; Percy has been seen approaching dogs head-on on occasion, which could be dangerous, and domestically-bred birds in general just don't have the same survival instincts as wild animals, putting him at greater risk from predators like foxes. He has no shelter from the elements in this icy weather, bearing in mind that peacocks are naturally native to warmer climates, and we are experiencing the worst Avian Flu outbreak that the UK has ever seen; we're seeing infected birds in the borough for the first time, as close as Thamesmead, and sadly, peacocks are among the species that are very susceptible to the virus.
Most crucially, I think, is that peacocks are social animals - they live in pairs or in groups. A solitary life is no life at all for Percy. So I feel that we are giving Percy the chancer at a far happier, safer and longer life, and I know that many locals who've been concerned about his welfare for months will agree, though that doesn't mean they won't miss him. Thank you to everyone who has assisted us in rescuing Percy. There will be more updates to come on this beautiful bird in the coming days.