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We Asked An Expert Why We Keep Hearing About Escaped Peacocks

Mr. Peacock has the deets.

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An escaped peacock named Tango was recently caught in Prince Edward Island after six weeks on the run.

This peacock is now going to have a warm place to stay this winter. http://t.co/d6xLmdWPu5 #pei

In May, an escaped peacock in Toronto also made headlines as it jumped across rooftops.

@mattgallowaycbc @metromorning #torontopeacock escaped from High Park Zoo on the loose

But wait, there's more! A "rather large and aggressive" peacock was also on the loose in London, England this summer.

'Bold, fat' peacock wandering the streets of Hampstead. #AudaciousAvianAntics http://t.co/MRqLledqim

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In the interest of actual science, we talked to a real peacock expert: Dennis Fett. Better known as Mr. Peacock.

Mr. Peacock has written a book on peafowl. He's done research. He has a farm full of 'em in Iowa. He and his wife (Mrs. Peacock, obviously) host YouTube shows. Their home has peacock-print wallpaper.

Rest assured, this man knows peacocks.

We asked Mr. Peacock: are peafowl more eager to escape, or does it just seem that way?

Stephane De Sakutin / AFP / Getty Images

The short answer is no. The problem, said Mr. Peacock, is people.

"People get em and they think they’re like chickens or geese or ducks — a week after they get them they can let them go," he said.

As it turns out they're more like cats and need some time to warm up to new owners and surroundings. Giving them free reign too early on means they're just going to wander away.

Peacocks in public locations are also vulnerable to getting spooked by visitors who get too close or try to pet them or pluck a feather.

"Sometimes people do silly things and make bad choices and frighten the birds and they just jump," said Mr. Peacock.

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They're not even particularly difficult to catch.

Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP / Getty Images

"They’re easy to capture," said Mr. Peacock. "But people — if they don’t know animals — they crowd them [and] they get frightened."

They're also pros at surviving on their own. They can get by in below-zero temperatures and are adept at foraging for bugs and greenery. That's why in some of those missing peacock stories the escapee shows up weeks or months later, no worse for wear.

But if that's the case, why are we so attentive whenever a peacock gets loose? Mr. Peacock suspects it's just another example of mankind's long-standing fascination with the creatures.

Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

"Peacocks have been always interesting since the beginning of time," he said noting that peacocks have appeared in religious imagery for thousands of years.

"I like all animals but I have never seen an animal on this earth that is as mesmerizing as a peacock in full display."