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Industrial park visitor has workers doing double-takes

This peacock showed up at Qual Serv Corp. in the Columbia Industrial Park on Bluff Road last week. Since then employees have been providing water and sharing vegetables from their lunches with the bird.
This peacock showed up at Qual Serv Corp. in the Columbia Industrial Park on Bluff Road last week. Since then employees have been providing water and sharing vegetables from their lunches with the bird.

COLUMBIA -- When Jeff Watson arrived at work last week, he was greeted by a feathery, blue visitor.

"I don't know where he came from," said Watson, who works at Qual Serve Corp. in a Bluff Road business park. "He just showed up."

Normally, brightly colored peacocks are more at home in zoos.

But since Monday, this peacock has taken up residence quite comfortably, it seems at the Columbia Industrial Park.

No one knows where he came from. No one has reported a missing peacock. And, at this point, no one has plans to relocate him.

"He's always here, every morning when I get here," said a smiling Watson. "I just call him Peacock."

Many times, the plumed fellow can be found hanging out by the Qual Serve air-conditioning unit. There, employees have left water and food in a bit of shade.

They're learning the peacock has a discerning palate.

On Wednesday, there were some picked-over Brussels sprouts left. But even if he picks over the vegetables, the peacock does like dessert.

"I gave it part of my Sock-it-to-Me cake," said Robert Kleber, another employee at Qual Serve. "It ate it right up."

Kleber first encountered the "big bird" as he returned from deliveries Tuesday. For a quarter-mile, it ran beside Kleber's truck.

"He looks at trucks, sees himself in the reflection," Kleber said. "He probably thinks it's another peacock."

Still, the peacock also can be skittish.

When animal rescuers tried to get close, he darted. When people toss bread, he goes in the opposite direction. By midafternoon Wednesday, the peacock had wandered off. Employees think he might be in the woods, trying to stay cool.

Mostly native to Asia, peacocks which can be 35 to 50 inches and have trains up to 60 inches don't just roam around cities, said Mickey Hall, an associate professor of animal and veterinary science at Clemson University.

"If it's in Columbia, it probably belonged in someone's collection," she said. "It's not like it migrated here, let me tell you."

They can make good pets and aren't necessarily aggressive unless protecting a nest, she said.

If someone takes in a peacock, it will need plenty of space, Hall added. Peacocks do like to roost, and they will find a high place to do it.

"It's a natural protection for them," she said. "They want to get up and away from things."

In terms of that diet? Peacocks need a lot of protein, she added, and lots of clean water.

Officials at Riverbanks Zoo said the peacock isn't theirs. And the state Department of Natural Resources has no jurisdiction over the animal because it's exotic.

But Marli Drum of the Columbia Animal Shelter said there's an outside chance the peacock might belong to them, but she can't be certain.

About five or six years ago, when the Shop Road shelter had a whole family of peacocks, a father peacock ran off another male, she said.

They assumed that peacock likely was run over by a vehicle as it tried to cross Interstate 77, not far from the shelter and the Columbia Industrial Park.

"I can't imagine that it's been across the street all this time," she said. "I'd love to think that was our boy and round him up."

"We'd love to get a new one, and this may be our opportunity," she added.

For now, Drum said the shelter will simply monitor the peacock. "He looks pretty happy down there," she said.

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