A peacock that made a heroic escape attempt during a round-up of birds at Calgary Zoo saw his break for freedom end up in the jaws of a lion.

The free-range birds were being rounded up and moved ahead of winter into cold weather quarters at the Canadian zoo, but one peacock surprised keepers by suddenly taking off and flying unusually high and fast.

The bird flew some distance away but ended up in the lion enclosure, which houses two males. Zookeepers later found feathers in the enclosure, and they believe the two lions would have been quick to notice their intruder.

Announcing the news in a statement on 9 November, the zoo said: "At this time of year a lot of changes happen with our animal residents, and one species that is used to roaming the grounds takes to indoors over the winter. Our peacocks get re-located to winter habitats and wait until warmer weather when they can again explore the gardens.

"This year, one of our males took to flight while being rounded up for the season and managed to fly into the lion habitat. Unfortunately it did not end up well for the peacock as our two male lions were quick to notice the visitor. The peacock did not survive. The remaining six peacocks are now in their winter holding."

Zoo spokesperson Trish Exton-Parder told the Calgary Herald: "It's not normal peacock behaviour that a bird would fly that high and that far into a habitat. To go as high as it did over a building is a feat in itself."

Asiatic lion
Two male lions at Calgary Zoo enjoyed their unexpected peacock feast. SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images

Exton-Parder also told Canadian news website The Star it was a "very shocking incident" for the zoo's animal care team. "There's nothing that they would have changed to have prevented something like this, so it's not a fault issue, it's just a peacock who randomly chose to take off in a different direction and landed in an unfortunate situation," she said.

The zookeepers now need to decide whether anything needs to change in the transfer process before next season, as they are all too aware there is a chance another bird "might make a choice to go a different direction".

This was the second peacock death at Calgary Zoo this year, after a fox broke into the grounds and left a partially-eaten bird carcass for zookeepers to find in April. The remaining peacocks were quickly rounded up and moved into an enclosure for their safety as the female fox temporarily settled into a non-public area of the zoo and gave birth to a litter of kits.

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