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Peacock dies after tourists' abuse in Chinese zoo

A rare peacock has died in a zoo in southwest China's Yunnan Province after photos of tourists pulling the animal's feathers went viral online.

A breeder found the dead blue peafowl, with some of its feathers gone, during the Lunar New Year holiday at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park in Kunming, said Li Youlong, head of the zoo's animal management department, on Wednesday.

Vets found that the peacock died of fright.

The zoo had a lot of visitors during the seven-day holiday. Despite signs warning them against this, some tourists tried to hold the animals, Li said, adding that zoo workers stepped in to stop physical contact in most cases.

It is difficult to get close to the free-ranging peafowls, but people managed to catch them using food as bait, he said.

Photos posted by the public online showed a man laughing while holding the peafowl as a woman pulled feathers from the bird. The images provoked a furious reaction from netizens.

Li urged tourists to treat animals with respect, and not to chase, hit or otherwise interfere with them.

The blue peafowl, also known as the Indian peafowl, features on the Red List of Threatened Species kept by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Its beautiful tail feathers are often used by people as decorations.



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