Improvements to be made to aviary at Northampton park as vet gives peacocks clean bill of health

A bird health expert has said the Abington Park peacocks are in good health despite a petition calling their captivity "cruel".

The petition to urge Northampton Borough Council to release the two birds has now attracted more than 900 signatures.

Dr Stephen Smith examined the two peacocks on Wednesday

Dr Stephen Smith examined the two peacocks on Wednesday

But despite the petition organiser, Charlotte Holmes asserting that their health is suffering and that they are "an embarrassment to the town", specialist in avian medicine Dr Stephen Smith examined the pair on Wednesday and declared them fit and well.

He said: "They show no signs of stress at all. Aside from a single broken tail feather in the white one, which is absolutely fine, they were fine.

"I've seen the video of the white one and he doesn't look depressed to me - he was just resting. When I was there, he was in the branches preening himself quite happily."

Dr Smith, who has been making advisory visits at the council's request since November 2018, said the birds' environment was big enough and suitable but further upgrades will be made.

Ghandi the Indian peacock

Ghandi the Indian peacock

"They will have a bigger enrichment area," he said, "and we'll reduce the size of the shed so they can take themselves to a private nesting corner if they are feeling anxious about being on display.

"There will also be a raised sleeper area and more foliage for the birds."

Dr Smith, who is based at Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire, also confirmed the council's statement that the peacocks would not survive in the wild.

He said: "They are bred in captivity so if you release them, they'd quickly get eaten by a fox or run over on a road.

"They have never had to cope with that situation so releasing them would be contrary to their welfare.

"The peacocks are their for conservational and educational purposes so children can look at them and want to get involved in animal care when they grow up."