The Emotional Support Peacock Who Has Made Global Headlines Is From Bushwick

Evan Haddad


It seems peacocks really can’t fly after all. Even if they are from the second-fliest neighborhood in the country.

Bushwick’s popular feathered friend, Dexter the emotional support peacock, made global headlines yesterday after its owner tried to take him on a United Airlines flight — and was denied.

“This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size,” according to a statement from a United spokesperson. “We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.”

The viral news stories, with pictures of the bird roosting atop some baggage at Newark Liberty International Airport, have drawn mixed responses from readers around the world. To many commentators, the question of emotional support animals on planes is controversial enough, without all the fuss and feathers. 

Airlines are “required to accommodate passengers with disabilities who depend on the assistance of service animals within limits,” according to the Department of Transportation. But they are “not required to accommodate unusual service animals such as snakes, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders.” 

The bird belongs to Ventiko, a Bushwick-based artist we covered long before she and her pet went viral. The artist bought Dexter and another peacock named Etta on Craigslist in Florida for $200. Dexter and Etta even hooked up and had some babies together. But when Etta birthed her peachicks in the Florida woods, she disappeared — babies and all.

“After the loss of his mate and chicks, Dexter’s personality changed drastically, and he became aggressive,” Ventiko told Bushwick Daily in 2015

Ventiko took Dexter to Bushwick where, naturally, he chilled out. The artist told us at the time that Dexter would likely move to the Dominican Republic. It seems that didn’t happen.  

“It’s kind of strange that it works so well,” Ventiko said in our original 2015 article. “But rather than question it, I am just accepting the gifts of the universe.” 

Cover image from the Bushwick Daily archives

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