New York cathedral’s three peacocks head for retirement

A white peacock strolls the grounds at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York. Photo/Lbassity via Wikimedia Commons

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York announced that the three majestic peacocks who have strolled on the grounds for two decades are moving into a well-deserved retirement at an animal sanctuary in Chatham, N.Y., about 120 miles north of the city.

Peacocks have been a familiar sight on the grounds since 1972, when the first flock was introduced. Jim, Harry, and Phil, the cathedral’s current trio, were hatched in 2002 and were gifted to the cathedral by students of the Cathedral School, according to the news release.

The three peacocks, named after two of the Cathedral’s previous deans and a former Head of the Cathedral School, have lived long, peaceful lives on the grounds. Now that the birds are reaching their senior years, the cathedral said it is planning for their retirement to a wildlife sanctuary to ensure that they receive the best possible quality of care as they age.

The cathedral has cared for the three peacocks with the expert aid of the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine. In recent years, Jim suffered a foot injury which required months of recuperation. Harry is currently a patient at the center, and will receive surgery to repair a leg tendon on Nov. 30.

The three birds received a new hutch in 2017, designed to match the cathedral’s Gothic appearance by Ryan Lewandowski and Paul Scrugha, the winners of a design competition by Ennead Architects. The new hutch was blessed in an outdoor ceremony by Bishop Andrew Dietsche, the diocesan bishop.

Peacocks in the wild can live to 15 years or more, but peacocks in captivity may reach 25 or older with the proper care. In the knowledge that the current three birds are nearing their golden ages, the cathedral has sought to find a place where they can continue to roam freely and will receive the best possible medical attention and treatment as they grow older. While Jim, Harry, and Phil will be missed, the cathedral is glad to provide them with a safe, comfortable retirement at Animal Nation.

The grounds at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are seen. Photo/Davidwtucker77 via Wikimedia Commons

Animal Nation is a non-profit, 100% volunteer-run wildlife, farm animal, and domestic animal rescue facility, sanctuary, and adoption center. After consideration of the cathedral peacocks’ medical needs and age, the cathedral and Animal Nation developed a plan for their move.

As symbols of the cathedral and the Cathedral School, the peacocks will always be part of the history and legacy of this Manhattan landmark. In the words of Flannery O’Connor, inducted into the cathedral’s American Poets Corner in 2014, “I intend to stand firm and let the peacocks multiply, for I am sure that, in the end, the last word will be theirs.”

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