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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Keepers Become Mom For Seven Water Deer Fawns

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: July 15, 2020 5:30 pm

water deer fawns whipsnade

Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Staff at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are hand-rearing a group of seven vulnerable Chinese water deer fawns.

Chinese water deer are nicknamed the ‘vampire deer’ due to their sharp canine teeth which resemble fangs.

Zookeeper Gracie Gee said, “The Chinese water deer fawns are a very welcome new arrival to Whipsnade and an important species for us to care for as the population in the wild is Vulnerable and continuing to decline.

water deer fawns whipsnade

Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

At birth the calves weigh just 1kg (2.2lbs) and stand only 12cm (4.7in) tall making it important for keepers to take steps to protect them.

“They are so small when they are born making them extremely vulnerable to predators, large birds could easily scoop them up, so we are hand-rearing the fawns in a sheltered space until they are big enough to move to their new enclosure at Whipsnade – all of this ensures we have a strong population at Whipsnade to safeguard the future of this species” added Gee.

Keepers have named the fawns, Bao, Yang, Yin Mei, Chen, Lu and Zhi. Every 6 hours they are bottle fed.

Chinese water deer are different to other deers as they will not grow antlers. Instead they are known for the ‘fangs’ which develop.

water deer fawns whipsnade

Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Gee said, “This species of deer is certainly unique, they have soft round ears which gives them a teddy bear-like appearance and  the males have sharp ‘fangs’ or tusks which can grow up to five cm long – the males can even move these fangs forward and backwards which they use to defend their territory – while their back legs are incredibly strong, and longer than their front legs, to give them a powerful leap.”

“As a free-roaming species at Whipsnade, the deer can be seen all over the zoo. Visitors are most likely to spot them in the Passage through Asia drive-through exhibit or sharing the Southern white rhinos’ paddock,” finished Gee.

Learn more about ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on their website – ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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