NEARLY 1,300 people have signed a petition calling for peacocks in Chalkwell Park to be freed from their enclosure.

The online petition was started by animal rights campaigner Mica Day, from Westcliff, last year - but has continued to gain support as the summer approaches.

Labour councillor Julian Ware-Lane believes the birds, which have been an attraction at the park since the Fifties, should be free to roam.

Mr Ware-Lane, also an animal rights activist, said: “The peacock and peahens need to be released. Nowadays peafowl are seen wandering the grounds of stately homes and the like, not caged. These enclosures do not seem big enough to me, not for birds of this size.

“I recall visiting the Chalkwell Park menagerie on many occasions as a child, but times have moved on.

“Decades ago Chalkwell Park was home to Lulu the bear, as well as chimpanzees and many other smaller mammals, birds, and reptiles.

“Now we are much better informed about animal rights. These birds should be free to roam.”

The peacock and three peahens were once part of a larger petting zoo, which also included a black bear. They are caged in what is the last vestige of Chalkwell Park menagerie.

The petition now has 1,294 signatures. Mr Ware-Lane said he would be prepared to present it to Southend Council.

He added: “People are well meaning but the birds do also get teased with people coming up to the enclosure and using sticks.

“They deserve better and should be able to roam free.”

The petition, on, reads: “Peacocks confined in an enclosure at Chalkwell Park are being denied their freedom to exhibit natural behaviour such as flying, roaming and roosting in trees.

“For many, seeing these magnificent birds in permanent captivity is saddening and an unpleasant part of the Chalkwell Park experience.”

Ann Holland, Tory councillor for culture, tourism and the economy, said the birds are well looked after. She said: “Their home has recently been re-done and it is much better than before.

“They have been there for years and families and children always enjoy coming to the park to see them.

“They have got a lovely home and the people that look after them really care for them.”

To view the petition, visit