Zoo officials trying to cut back on peacock population

Over breeding has led to an abundance of peacocks at Hillcrest Zoo. Officials are making the birds available for purchase in an effort to curb their numbers. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The peacock population at Hillcrest Zoo is getting out of control, according to zoo director Herschel Arnold.

Although an exact head count is nearly impossible to gather, Arnold said the small animal facility is currently home to approximately 70 of the large, colorful fowl.

“Every time you turn around there’s a peacock,” Arnold said.
The large number of peacocks, who are not caged, are not a nuisance yet, but will quickly become one if something isn’t done, according to Arnold.

To alleviate the overcrowding, zoo employees plan to keep the birds from procreating by limiting mating and destroying the nest eggs.

“We have tried to keep it to only a few mating,” Arnold said, “but they hide.”

They also plan to sell some of the existing birds. The zoo director said the birds are actually an asset in many ways.
“Farmers love them,” Arnold said.

“(Peacocks) don’t like strangers, so they make great watchdogs, and they kill snakes.”

Clovis resident Sam Snell said although he owns several exotic animals, including camels, he doesn’t think he would be interested in buying any peacocks.

“They’re loud,” Snell said, “and they poop on the porch.” Snell said the location of his residence is also a factor.

“My dad has a farm, so I might be interested,” Snell said, “I’ll have to give him a call.”

Fast facts
According to www.boxess.com, a male peacock becomes fully feathered at 3 years of age but can mate earlier. Hens usually lay between two to six eggs in their second or third year. Their lifespan is 15 years but some have been known to live 25 years.