Memphis Zoo Welcomes Baby Deer From Rare Species

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Considered extinct in the wild, the Memphis Zoo welcomed a baby Pere David’s Deer last month. The zoo is one of a handful of U.S. zoos that houses the rare species.

The male fawn was born at the zoo on March 27 amid severe storms passing through the Mid-South. Due to his arrival in the midst of the wild weather, zoo staff gave the fawn the name Gale.

Gale, born to mother, Piper, and father, Freddie, is the second Pere David’s Deer born at the zoo in the past two years.

“Gale is doing well and getting to know the other members of his herd, including his sister April, who just turned one year old this month,” zoo staff said Wednesday. “His favorite thing to do is snuggle up in his pile of hay and watch the ducks splash in the pond in his exhibit.”

The fawn is outside in his habitat daily for zoo visitors to see.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature still classifies the deer species as extinct in the wild. According to the IUCN, the species is native to China and lived in grasslands and wetlands.

The deer are named after a French missionary who discovered one of the last wild herds of the deer at a park in China in 1865, the Memphis Zoo said. He sent several of the deer to zoos in Europe and the wild herd was later wiped out by a flood.

Pere David’s Deers currently live in zoos and several wildlife reserves around the world. Conservationists started reintroducing the species into the wild in China in 1985 and efforts to build back up the wild population are ongoing.

According to the Memphis Zoo, the deer are referred to in China as ”‘sze pu shiang’ which means ‘none of the four.’”

“This name refers to the deer’s unique appearance as it looks like it has the neck of a camel, the hooves of a cow, the tail of a donkey, and the antlers of a deer,” the zoo said. “Their branched antlers are also unique in that the long tines point backward. Another unique feature of these deer is their hooves — they are webbed to aid in swimming.”