Pepe the prancing peacock has strutted his stuff around a Preston suburb for the best part of a decade.
But the exotic nomad, a regular visitor to dozens of gardens across Fulwood, had his wings clipped when two well-meaning ‘bird-nappers’ pinched him from his pen.
The animal lovers set Pepe free on land near Preston Golf Course – sparking a phone call to police and leaving him with a badly damaged tail.
But when police later spoke to them, officers decided to drop the matter.
A police spokesman said: “The people who did it have said they honestly held the belief they were acting in a lawful manner by taking it.”
A row has been bubbling since the Hall family ‘adopted’ Pepe in late April, after he waltzed over Eastway and into their aviary, in Midgery Lane, Fulwood, of his own free will.
The people who did it have said they honestly held the belief they were acting in a lawful manner by taking it
But some members of the community believe the family ‘coaxed’ him over and launched a mission to free the bird on the night of Saturday June 13.
Two men jumped into the garden at around 8.40pm and removed the bird before escaping back over the fence and zooming off in a car.
Jonathan Hall, 26, said: “It is just a bit of a shock really.
“It’s his feathers that have been badly damaged, there was blood all over the aviary.”
Simon Hall, 49, spoke of the family’s upset and said they will be upping security.
He said: “We were all in the house and all of a sudden I heard this huge commotion.
“I looked out and I could see two lads chasing Pepe round the aviary.
“When they caught him they literally threw him over the fence, they bundled him into something. One of the men was agitated saying, ‘You’ve stolen him, you’ve stolen him, it is not right, it is not yours.’
“But what my son, Jonathan can’t get out of his head is the way they were treating him. They fell on him twice – they were big lads – they manhandled him, they were treating him like a rugby ball and shut the car door on his tail.”
After the men drove off with the peacock’s eight-foot tail trapped in the car door, they released him minutes later.
Pepe found sanctuary in a 50ft tree and made his own way back to the Hall’s sanctuary on Monday June 15.
The police caught up with the ‘bird-nappers’ later that night in Fulwood but decided not to pursue the matter further.
But the RSPCA has since launched a probe into the incident due to the injuries Pepe sustained.
Simon revealed the family do not want a war.
He said: “After the horrific incident, it was nice to get a happy ending for us because he has actually come back to a place where the last thing he remembers is a trauma.
“So he is obviously happy here, you should have seen the way he ran back to the house.
“We don’t want to aggravate the people over there, that is why we are not pressing charges.”