Boy, 3, hospitalised after peacock attack at Paignton Zoo

A three-year old boy has been taken to hospital after he was attacked by an “aggressive” peacock at Paignton Zoo.

On Saturday (June 19) Plymouth mum Becky Gittoes arrived at the animal attraction with her husband and two young children at around 1pm expecting to have a fun-filled family day.

However, after just one hour the day quickly turned into a parent’s worst nightmare after their son Ezra became the victim of a peacock attack which left him covered in blood.

Becky said: ”We were sat in a designated park with picnic benches and a climbing frame for kids to play on, it was full of kids. The peacock was roaming around, Ezra was nowhere near it.

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”Suddenly, it just charged at Ezra out of nowhere and clawed his forehead. It was horrible. ‘If it had been a couple of inches lower Ezra could have been blinded.

”We were told to take Ezra straight to hospital, he is now on antibiotics and is going to be left with a scar.

”No-one from Paignton Zoo has contacted us since the attack. There is no signage warning us that the peacocks are aggressive.

”Why are they allowed in where children are if this can happen? This could have been prevented.”

The zoo has since said that signs tell visitors that the peacocks can sometimes peck and one of its first-aiders was quickly on the scene to help Ezra.

Ezra Gittoes, 3, was attacked by a peacock
(Image: Becky Gittoes)

Regular visitors to the zoo, Becky says that the family always enjoyed trips to the park and had even spent the day there celebrating Ezra’s third birthday a few weeks ago.

Becky says the family stopped in one of the picnic areas located near The Ranch area within the zoo before the incident took place.

She said: ”Myself and my husband were sat on a bench with a coffee just watching the kids. There were two peacocks, some kids were looking at them but they weren’t provoking or touching them.

”Ezra must have been the smallest in the park and that is why the peacock went for him.

”There was blood all down his face. He was crying, I was crying, his sister was crying. My husband took charge and a first-aider arrived around five minutes later.

”They told us they were unable to help and we needed to take him to hospital. We were told to fill an accident form out at the zoo so we did that and I left my number.”

Becky says that on their way out to the hospital they were told to log what had happened with reception, however the staff were dismissive and didn’t seem concerned, she said.

Becky said: ”My main priority was getting Ezra to hospital as soon as I could, but we were told to inform reception. ‘They didn’t seem concerned really.

Ezra’s mum Becky says that if the peacock had gone just a couple of inches below, he could have been blinded
(Image: Becky Gittoes)

”We took him straight to Newton Abbot hospital where they put a sterile strip over the wound. They told us that as it was an animal attack they were unable to stitch the wound in case there is an infection in there.

”He is now antibiotics.”

Becky says that despite leaving her contact number, the zoo has not been in touch since the incident.

She said: ”To be honest I just feel so angry.

”As a parent I feel so guilty. Ezra is not going to want to go back there now and he will be scared of animals.

”He is going to be left with a scar on his forehead as they can’t stitch it.

”Something needs to be done. The first-aider told us that it’s mating season and the males can be aggressive.

Ezra Gittoes was taken to Newton Abbot hospital after the peacock attack at Paignton Zoo
(Image: Becky Gittoes)

”If that is the case they need signs up or they need to stop the peacocks from going in the children’s area while it’s mating season.

”This incident could have been preventable.”

Following the incident, a spokesperson for Paignton Zoo told DevonLive: “Paignton Zoo is renown for it’s free ranging peacocks as we’ve had them for many, many years.

”Peacocks are not known to be aggressive but they can sometimes peck, so we have plenty of signs around the zoo (including in the picnic area where the incident occurred) advising our guests of this and that children should be supervised at all times.

”When this incident occurred a first-aider attended the child within minutes, they acted professionally and provided the appropriate care.

”After an incident, it is our procedure to ensure we speak to the staff involved to gather all of the relevant information before making contact with guests.

”We are now in contact with the family concerned and hope to see them back at Paignton Zoo soon.”

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Ezra’s peacock attack was not the first to take place at Paignton Zoo. In 2018, a six-year old girl was left covered in blood after a peacock sliced her nose in an attack.

Her dad, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I don’t want anything to happen to the peacocks and I don’t want anything to happen to the zoo, but there needs to be more information.”

He also said he had been disappointed by the zoo’s “casual” approach to the incident.

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He said: “My wife turned her back for a minute then heard a woman scream. It was our daughter completely covered in blood. The peacock had sliced right through the end of her nose.

“It had clawed her neck and sliced a capillary vessel in her nose.”

After the attack her family said she spent several hours at hospital, where the wound was glued.

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