Petition to remove peacocks from Northampton park attracts more than 400 signatures

A Northampton resident has won the support of hundreds of people in her efforts to free the caged peacocks in Abington Park.

The two birds, an Indian peafowl called Ghandi and a second, white peacock, are the latest in a long line of peacocks at the park stretching back on and off about 100 years.

One of the peacocks, Ghandi

One of the peacocks, Ghandi

But regular park visitor Charlotte Holmes has been moved to start a petition aimed at Northampton Borough Council to have the peacocks removed for the sake of their health.

The birds' cages have paving slab-style floors with no grass to graze on and little direct sunlight for most of the day. Peacocks living in the wild like to roost in trees but the park pair are unable to do so.

Charlotte , who labelled the birds' confinement "an embarrassment to our town" said: "To me the whole point of a peacock is strutting around with a big tail, looking magnificent.

"One of them is so stressed or whatever that they're missing a lot of their tail feathers. What's the point of keeping them like that?

The peacocks live in Bird Cage Walk

The peacocks live in Bird Cage Walk

"People will say birds in cages are supposed to teach kids about nature, but all this is teaching them is cruelty."

Ghandi was donated in 2010 by current mayor of Northampton Tony Ansell - who owns the lease on Abington Park Cafe - along with two other birds who have since died.

He then donated a fourth bird, which is still alive.

Councillor Ansell rejected the cruelty allegation.

He said: "They have everything at their beck and call, they get cleaned out and fed, they don't have to look out for predators.

"It's like a five-star hotel, in reality.

"They live 25 years in the wild but about 30 years in a cage."

The petition on change.org has so far attracted more than 420 signatures, against a target of 500.

Councillor Mike Hallam, cabinet member for environment, said there was no question of the birds being released as they would not be able to cope.

He said: “The aviary is a unique and much-loved feature of Abington Park and we receive a lot of positive feedback about it.

“All the birds have been donated to the borough council, and the peacocks were bred in captivity, so they would not survive in the wild.”

Councillor Hallam confirmed that the cages met all the relevant standards.

He said: “The welfare of all the birds is very important to us. The cages are of adequate size and meet the national animal welfare standards for aviaries. They were refurbished in 2017, including new flooring, water supplies and drainage, making each cage easier to wash down.

“The birds are regularly checked by an avian vet and a dedicated employee cleans and inspects the cages on a daily basis, providing fresh food and water."