Thousands of peacocks on the run in mass escape in China

Storm damage at a peacock farm enabled thousands of the birds to escape.
PHOTO: Weibo

Around 6,500 peacocks escaped from a farm in southern China after a storm damaged their enclosures on Saturday.

Only several dozen had been recovered by Tuesday.

The remaining flock at the farm in Louxia village, Guangdong province, consisted of 1,000 chicks and 200 peacocks used for breeding, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

"They escaped along the road. They're all over the hills," a farmworker said in the television report. "We're catching them one by one."

The report showed a peacock perched on a tree and two on top of a battered shed.

Staff tried to lure the avian escapees back by repeatedly playing a recording of the folk song Bamboo Under the Moonlight, which the farm uses as the feeding time call. But only a few return each day, according to the report.

The farm is supported by the area's agriculture department and designated as a poverty alleviation project for the village. The peacocks are bred for consumption and display. The economic damage suffered from the lost peacocks exceeded 10 million yuan (S$2 million), the village chief told The Beijing News.

A retrieval operation by 20 villagers armed with nets and other tools was hampered by wet weather this week, according to the report.

Users of China's Twitter-like Weibo microblog service have made light of the situation, playing on the stereotype that people from Guangdong have voracious appetites.

"Don't look for them any more, they have been eaten by Guangdong people," one wrote.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.