VIDEO: Peacock George evades bids to send him home
It has all the hallmarks of a classic schoolboy prank involving an end-of-year party, a large trailer and a long journey.
But George the peacock's unintentional migration from his idyllic Somerset abode to a small Devon town has caused quite a stir – not least among the residents in his new surroundings.
The large blue and green bird disappeared from Hornsbury Mill, a converted early 19th century corn mill in Chard, following Axe Valley Community College's prom in June.
He was eventually spotted scrounging for food in the garden of a Colyton home – some 13 miles away – after apparently being coaxed into a horsebox and driven away.
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Now, two and a half months later, George is still at large in his Saxon settlement, despite an RSPCA catcher being hired and an internet campaign to return him home.
Elizabeth Goudge, who is leading efforts to rescue the distinctive new inhabitant of her East Devon town, said: "People around here have seen him initially as a novelty... but his mate is said to be pining for him. And I fear it will all end badly as it is only a matter of time before he is killed by someone or something."
He is living in a residential area of the town, moving from one garden to another in search of food.
Mrs Goudge, a retired lecturer, said: "I found George quite amiable and some say they have actually hand-fed him. All who encounter him report that he is 'quite tame' but I have been assured that peacocks are notoriously difficult to catch."
She displayed posters in the town, recruited local postmen to keep an eye out for him, and even contacted the police as efforts grew to help George.
Tony Hibbert, owner of The Little Shop in the town centre, said: "Everyone here has heard about George."
Anton Bolton, proprietor of Colyton Butchers, said: "George seems quite healthy, but it looks like he's lost some of his feathers in the warm weather. If someone does catch him, I'll put peacock on the menu!"
An RSPCA inspector was eventually sent to find the lonely and confused peacock, but was unable to rescue him.
A Facebook page entitled 'George the peacock Colyton mascot' was created for people to share stories of his whereabouts, attracting almost 200 'likes'.
Resident Charles Hill said: "George has provided a lot of entertainment and has been a real talking point. He makes a strange honking sound. One morning he woke me up at 4am!"
Neighbour Julia Oliver said: "I've seen him plenty of times. He stays around for a few days then disappears. If everyone stopped feeding him, he might be easier to catch."
Staff at George's four-star Somerset home are still holding out hope he will rejoin the other five peacocks living at the historic property.
Chloe Adams, manager of Hornsbury Mill, said: "We would really like to have our peacock back.
"George has probably been for around 10 years. It's highly unlikely he would have walked such a long way, not least because peacocks don't normally stray."