What type of deer is this?
The Père David's deer went extinct in the wild in the river valleys of China in 1939. It was first made known to science in 1886 by Armand David (Père David), who sent carcasses to Paris, where the species was given its name by a biologist.
Length is between 6.2-7.2ft & stands 3.9 ft at the shoulder; weight can reach between 298-441 lbs. The antlers are very unique, with the long tines pointing backwards & almost directly upward, and have been known to grow 2 sets in a year. Summer antlers are the larger set, and fall off in November, after the summer rut. When a second set appears, they are fully grown by January & drop a few weeks later. During the rut, males adorn their antlers with vegetation. Birthing begins after a 9 month gestation period. Sexual maturity is reached at 14 mo, and the average lifespan is up to 18 yrs.
They prefer wetlands & although a predominantly grazer of grass, it supplements its diet with aquatic plants. Humans appear to have been the primary predator. In 1900, all wild specimens were killed. A few were kept & illegal transported to Europe. Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford, was instrumental in saving the species. Today, more than 5,000 exist in zoos around the world stemming from those few rescued deer.
After reintroductions to China (1985 and 1987), the population expanded to around 2,000 in 2005 in Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve. After a flood in 1998, which resulted in escapes from the reserve, 700 deer now live in the wild.