One of four peacocks that escaped from the Philadelphia Zoo and created a traffic jam on the nearby Schuylkill Expressway was found dead Thursday afternoon.
The peacocks were spotted around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday strutting along I-76 westbound near the Girard Avenue exit.
State police shut down two of the six lanes of traffic and appeared to escort the four birds down the highway, causing backups for miles.
Police managed to form a barricade around the peacocks and get them off the highway, but were unable to capture them. The four birds then flew away into nearby trees, with one of them managing to fly across the highway. The search was halted until daybreak Thursday.
Zoo staffers and police officers on Thursday morning circled the area where the peacocks were last seen and checked locations where the peacocks might explore, Philadelphia Zoo spokeswoman Dana Lombardo said.
One of the peacocks was found dead. Lombardo said the animal was likely hit by a car.
The search for the other three peacocks is ongoing.
"The staff at the Zoo will continue to work with authorities to locate the peacocks and bring them to safety," Lombardo said.
It's not unusual for the peacocks, part of a larger "free-roaming flock" cared for by zoo staff, to stray from the historic zoo, but they normally return in the evening to roost for the night, Lombardo said.
In the meantime, zoo officials asked people not to approach the peacocks because they "are out of their normal environment and may be nervous." Instead, people who see the peacocks can send the location, day and time and a photo of the sighting if possible to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While "peacock" is commonly used to refer to both male and females, the females are called peahens. The gender of the birds was not clear.