Zoo terror: The petrifying peacock


This story took place when I was a kid. I’m guessing I was about 7 years old. I was at the zoo with my family and it was supposed to be an All-American summer day with Mom, Pops and the sisters. By the way, my sisters? Mean as junkyard dogs to me. They just treated me brutally throughout my childhood, picking on me often and repeatedly. Keep in mind they are a little older than me, and by a little I mean a lot.

Here I was, basically the perfect kid and treated as such by my saint of a mother, and yet I was forced to put up with the evil shenanigans of those two. Did I mention they are much older than me? Anywho, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were behind this yarn I’m about to spin in some manner, either by telling me to look elsewhere while they ran away or telling me there were free Cheez-Its around the corner and then bolting from the immediate area.

Long story short, I got lost. Separated from my family unit. I’m lost at the zoo, man, not a great place for a kid to be lost, and Jack Hannah was nowhere in sight. I remember being a little afraid at first, then the fear turned to full-out panic:




At this point I’m sure my sisters were probably watching from behind the Lion Pit, grinning maniacally and hoping I’d wander in there and become the King of the Jungle’s brunch. I didn’t, thank God, and just decided to start walking and yelling “MOM!” from time-to-time. I mean, they’ll miss me sooner or later, right?


Eventually, I came to this little sidewalk that cut through some trees, and in my infinite 7-year-old wisdom I took it. I was sort of half-jogging down this sidewalk when it happened. I suddenly came face-to-face with an enormous 7-foot tall peacock. OK, it was probably 4 feet tall but I was about 3 1/2 feet tall so to me it was a monster.

I froze.

He froze.

Somewhere, a lion roared.

And then it happened. His tail feathers arched open and he made a charge at me like a fat kid towards a bag of Funyuns. It was an absolutely horrific sight.

At that point I did what any reasonably intelligent second grader would do — I ran like hell. Seriously, just scampered out of there like a rabbit on crack. Problem was, the peacock was pretty good at scampering as well.

Random thought: If I ever start a band I’m naming it The Scampering Peacocks. But back to the story.

The peacock was right on my behind, just burnin’ rubber trying to get at me. I glanced over my shoulder and the news was not good — he was gaining on me. Right about then I had a horrifying thought — can peacocks fly? I envisioned this winged beast piercing its talons right in the back of my neck, picking me up and flying me off to peacock parts unknown to be eaten at his leisure.

But, that didn’t happen.

Instead, it caught me and pecked me on the back of my legs. I turned and tried to connect with a roundhouse kick but the demon bird was quick on its feet, deftly hopping out of the way. From that point on, though, he followed me from a distance of about five feet, which in some ways was freakier than being attacked by this predator from hell. He was stalking me, waiting for me to make a mistake so he could swoop in, rip a vein out of my neck and kill me.

In the end I was saved by a heroic zoo worker, a superhuman immortal who faced the monster head-on and ran it off. OK, it was an 83-year-old female zoo volunteer, but she was a hero to me. Before vamoosing though, the behemoth fowl stopped to give me one last look as if to say, “This isn’t over, little one. One day we shall meet again.”

The same lady actually helped me find my family and told them the story, so of course I had to endure years of ridicule from my aforementioned much older evil siblings. In addition, the whole ghastly experience led to a lifelong aversion to peacocks.

Sad story. Sad indeed

Oh, and to this day I don’t watch NBC unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Note: Some parts of this story were exaggerated to enhance the experience. It’s called creative license. What I’m trying to say is I loved my sisters. They weren’t quite that mean to me. I, on the other hand, just might have been a slightly less than perfect little brother. Sorry Sis and Sid.

Dave Shoemaker is a retired teacher, athletic director and basketball coach with most of his professional years spent at Paint Valley. He also served as the national basketball coach for the island country of Montserrat in the British West Indies. He lives in Southern Ohio with his best friends and companions, his dogs Sweet Lilly and Hank. He can be reached at https://shoeuntied.wordpress.com/.

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