Congo Peacock

Some animal discoveries are made in museums. In 1913, the New York Zoological Society sent an unsuccessful expedition to the Congo in an attempt to bring back a live okapi. Instead, one of the team’s members, Dr. James P. Chapin, brought back some native headdresses with curious long reddish-brown feathers striped with black. None of the experts could identify them.

In 1934, on another of his frequent visits to the Congo, Chapin noticed similar feathers on two stuffed birds at the Tervueren Museum. Though labeled “Young Indian Peacocks,” he knew they were something else. As it turned out, a mining company in the Congo had donated them to the museum and labeled them “Indian peacocks,” but as Chapin soon determined, they were a new species.

The following year he flew down to the Congo and brought back seven birds, known to the natives as mbulu. Chapin confirmed them as the first new bird genus discovered in forty years. They were a true African pheasant, a primitive form closely related to the Asiatic peacocks. The Congo peacock (Afropavo congensis) is now commonly featured in European and North American zoos.


The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark

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