Second update: We’ve spoken to the CentralPeacock and one of the peacock’s Twitter assistants. The post has been updated.
A peacock from the Central Park Zoo escaped from its Manhattan aviary Tuesday and made a temporary home on a Fifth Avenue windowsill. The bird decided to fly home Wednesday morning, ending the increasingly familiar saga of escaped zoo animals on big-city adventures.
Like his predecessors, the Bronx Zoo cobra and peahen, the peacock had at least two Twitter accounts set up in his name: @BirdOnTheTown and @CentralPeacock. For zoo animals on the run, having their escapade play out on Twitter is seemingly a requirement. But who’s helping the liberated zoo animals with their tweets?
The account BirdOnTheTown is getting by with a little help from a New York resident. “It's true, I sometimes help the peacock with his Twitter,” the assistant, who would like to stay anonymous, told The Post in an e-mail. “He’s not a good typist despite how prolific he is!”
The peacock’s aide, a freelance writer and communications and public relations professional, said that he (or she?) started the account as an experiment — and for fun.
“As soon as I heard about the escaped peacock I wanted to start the Twitter account to demonstrate how social media ... can manufacture buzz,” the helper said in an e-mail. “But also I am a huge fan of the Bronx Zoo Cobra. She was my mentor for sure and has paved the way for all future animals on Twitter!”
Noah Chestnut, a digital strategist behind the JFK turtles Twitter account, gave a similar explanation. “This was an opportunity to really see the viral moment and direct it to an extent, as well as just learn about how people engage with it,” Chestnut said to Mashable. Recently, Chestnut’s used the account to spread the word about famine in East Africa to the turtle’s 8,000 followers.
The peacock behind CentralPeacock would not reveal the identity of its human assistant and said he is composing all of the account’s tweets.
“Not many humans can be that witty (this human certainly tries),” the CentralPeacock told the Post in an email. “However, whilst devising the plan my escape and imminent return, I had to dictate my tweets to this local. As you can imagine, it’s much faster to type with fingers than with thumbs.”
“As much as my attention-seeking local human accomplice would love to let you all know who he/she is, in order to keep the VIVA La Peacock Revolution alive, I've convinced he/she to remain quiet at least for now,” the CentralPeacock explained.
Whoever they are, they’ve been sending out almost constant tweets since the peacock escaped, replying to many of the account’s 2,000-plus followers and even communicating with the Central Park Zoo peahen. She set up a Twitter account to guilt the peacock into returning for their kids: “Leaving me behind with all these kids? i don’t think so!”
“For the 1000th time. THEY’RE NOT MINE!” the peacock replied.
@CentralPeahen I’m calling Maury.
Are all of the zoo animal helpers interested in using Twitter as an experiment in creating buzz in the digital world? Or they just fame-seeking humans looking for a payday? Or are some, as BlogPost’s Melissa Bell pointed out in passing, just acting on their animal instincts?