At any law school you would expect to see stacks of dusty legal books, students feverishly studying and pockets of distinguished faculty engaged in debate. At the Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU-DSOL), you’ll see all of those things. Walking through the halls of Knoxville’s historic Old City Hall you’ll also catch a glimpse of Mary Todd.
However, it is not a portrait, statue or even the ghost of the University’s namesake’s wife you’ll spy, but an Indian peahen that has made a courtyard at LMU-DSOL her home. The unofficial mascot of the law school, Mary Todd, arrived on the scene during the renovation of Old City Hall. The commotion of a multi-million dollar renovation never scared her away and as the inaugural class of law students arrived in August of 2009, it became clear that the peahen was here to stay. It was the inaugural class who named her.
Indian peafowl are native to South Asia, however semi-feral fowl are not uncommon around the world. The peafowl are polygamous by nature with one male nesting with multiple peahens, though females do not appear to favor specific males. Contrarily, some research has shown the peafowl to be more monogamous, with a surviving mate being outcast from a group following a death or disappearance of their mate. This along with abandoned pets and wandering peafowl can account for the origins of the feral population. Just a couple months ago, a wily peahen escaped from the Bronx Zoo and Twitter buzzed with peahen sightings and tales of her roaming the streets and dodging zookeepers. After three days on the lam, the peahen returned to the zoo.
Peahens are omnivorous, feeding on seeds, fruit, insects, snakes and small mammals. Mary Todd forages for food around the LMU-DSOL courtyard where the students have erected a shelter for her. LMU-DSOL students, faculty and staff also supplement her diet, leaving food periodically. She spends her days peeping through a glass wall outside the second floor hallway outside one of DSOL’s largest lecture halls, so most students pass her every day. Occasionally, Mary Todd wanders to the roof for a bird’s eye view of the City of Knoxville.