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#173 Pere David's Deer

Extinct in the Wild

Well these are now one of my favourite deer because of how odd they are! That means this post is mostly going to be a whole lot of interesting facts about the deer.

They are from China, but the name is because of a missionary named Armand David from France. He was the one who brought them to the attention of the rest of the world, and really is why they are still alive today. They had essentially gone extinct except for a herd that the emperor of China had in a walled garden. People were not even allowed to look at them let alone interact. Pere David apparently had a more than healthy curiosity and was able to convince guards to let him look over the wall once. That was all it took because when he saw the deer he knew they were a "new" kind that he'd never heard of. He thought they were a type of reindeer. Long story short, but because of him some were sent to France. They didn't survive the journey but because the emperor had sent some there he couldn't really ignore other countries so he sent some to German and the UK, and those survived. Not too long after that, most of the deer got out of the walled area and the poor in the area killed and ate them. It is understandable, most starving people don't worry about whether the thing they are about to eat might go extinct. Then, soldiers occupying the space during the Boxer Rebellion ate the rest of the deer that were still alive. The ones in Germany and the UK did well, and have reproduced so that they were able to be reintroduced to China. They are not in the wild, but in a couple wildlife parks there.

That fascinating story isn't the reason they are one of my favourite deer though. It is the deer themselves that I find so interesting. Their tails are much longer than you are used to in deer, around 2 feet long. They are considered semi-aquatic. Think a friendlier deer version of a hippo. They have webbed hooves to help them swim, though that slows them down on land. Their top speed is about 18mph. Compare that to the reindeer David thought they were related to and their top sped of 50mph! They love to hang out in the water and supplement their diet of grasses with aquatic plants. Their Chinese name means "like none of the four" because they have attributes of a donkey, horse (some say camel), cow, and deer, but they aren't exactly like any of them. The males have very interesting looking antlers, but people usually expect you to paint the males of deer because of their antlers and I wanted to just show the female. The males get 2 different sets of antlers, one for summer and one for winter. The males and females both have different coats too, a summer and winter one. The summer one is a brighter coat and in the winter their fur is a more grey brown.

No real sharing anything personal this time, I've gone all fan-girl over these deer enough that my post is as long as I usually go. I don't think there is anyone actually following my blogs. If you are out there though, I'd love to know what sort of animals you especially like that are maybe not the typical favourite animals. I'm going to do a week of "pests" now. Animals that most people would be happy to have disappear.

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