Congo Peafowl

(Afropavo congensis)




Facts about this animal

The Congo peafowl looks very different from its Asiatic cousins. It is smaller, reaching a total length of up to 70 cm only, and a body weight of up to 1.5 kg in males and 1.2 kg in females. It has a much shorter (only 23-25 cm) tail without ocelli, there is a variable extent of naked red skin on the neck, and the upright crest on the head is white in front with a few dark feathers behind.

The colour of male Congo peafowl is mostly dark blue all over with a metallic green and purple tinge. The throat is reddish-brown. The hen is also very different from Asian peafowl. She has a bright chestnut breast, underparts and forehead, while the back is metallic green.

Congo peafowl inhabit primary lowland rain forest up to an altitude of 1200 m. They are believed to be omnivorous. Chicks rely heavily on insects as their diet for the first week of life.

There is little reliable information on the reproduction of the Congo peafowl in the wild, but it is obviously a monogynous species. The female lays usually 2-3 eggs, rarely more, which are incubated for 27-28 days.

Did you know?
that the Congo peafowl was discovered by Dr. James P. Chapin of the New York Zoological Society at the Royal Belgian Congo Museum in Tervuren? On an unsuccessful African expedition in search of the Okapi, Chapin had picked up native headdresses containing long red-brown feathers with black stripes which could not be allocated to any species known to science. In 1934, when Chapin visited the Tervuren Museum, he saw two stuffed birds with similar feathers labelled "Indian peacocks." As Chapin discovered, they were actually specimens of a new species, the Congo peacock. Finally in 1935 Chapin was able to locate and bring back seven specimens of the "mbulu" as the bird was called by the Congolese.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Afropavo congensis
Name (English) Congo Peafowl
Name (French) Paon du Congo
Name (German) Kongopfau
Name (Spanish) Pavo-real de Congo
Local names Mbulu
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Frank Wouters



Range Democratic Republic of the Congo
Habitat Rainforest
Wild population Population estimate requiring further documentation, but the population is decreasing (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 108 registered by the International Studbook, of which 98 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Congo Peafowl


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 16 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The Congo peafowl is a vulnerable species with a population of probably less than 10'000, and its habitat is threatened. With a view of building up a reserve population, an International Studbook has been established under the WAZA umbrella, and coordinated conservation breeding programmes are operated at the regional level by AZA and EAZA.