Peacock rescue

Kristin Wuestenfeld, left, assistant manager of the petting zoo at Randall Oaks Park, holds Blue the peacock after Lt. Randy Schultz pulled it from a tree. (West Dundee Fire Department photo)

A peacock that got loose from a West Dundee zoo was rescued from high up in a tree but later died following his exposure to the extreme cold.

The 15-pound, 5-year-old bird named Blue escaped from his enclosure at Randall Oaks Barnyard Zoo during a feeding at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, officials said. He was rescued about 90 minutes later from atop a large pine tree by a firefighter and a zoo worker in a 100-foot-long bucket ladder.

Zoo Assistant Manager Kristin Wuestenfeld “was able to grab the bird, who was kind of frozen to the tree,” West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Freise said.

The peacock was treated by a local veterinarian, who administered an antibiotic and steroid to try to stave off pneumonia, but workers arriving Wednesday morning discovered the animal had died overnight.

Veterinarian Ron Durante, who treated Blue, said peacocks generally don’t like to be handled; that, coupled with the severe weather, likely caused the bird to get “stressed out.”

“He was warmed up well but, unfortunately, those guys go into shock and there is nothing you can do,” he said, adding peacocks typically live into their teens.

Blue was one of the zoo’s 10 peacocks, who typically spend the winter in a barn, said Tom Mammoser, executive director of Dundee Township Park District, which runs Randall Oaks.

Mammoser said the zoo is “evaluating procedures on how we keep the peacocks” but added that the zoo is regularly inspected by government authorities and meets standards for the treatment and care of its animals.

Oddly enough, this wasn’t the first bird call for Freise, whose department once tried, unsuccessfully, to help rescue an expensive exotic bird.

He said other requests for help that came in Tuesday morning were handled by other crews.

The peacock “was our unusual call for the day, that’s for sure,” he said.
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