and Pere David's Deer
Axis deer (or Chitals) were natives of India, they were lovely dappled
animals. In the wild they are a favourite prey for tigers. Even
with predators, as here, life was not entirely peaceful, at least
for the bucks. They, when their antlers were free of velvet, would
occasionally fight over dominance and mating rights. But such active
rivalry was rarer than in many deer because the breeding and likewise
the antler development of these tropical forest deer was non-seasonal
and non-synchronised. In any case the females and any young deer
were usually quite unconcerned by the male jousting and continued
to quietly browse among the bushes.
remarkable Pere David Deer, named after the French missionary-naturalist
who (thanks to some judicious bribing of royal guards) was able
in 1865 to climb the wall of the vast Imperial Hunting Park near
Peking and become the first westerner to observe them.
they are unusual deer is reflected in their old Chinese name,
ssu-pu-hsiang , meaning " like, yet unlike, four "
- i.e. horse, ox, deer and goat.
stags would sometimes grow a second pair of antlers in one year.
deer are a famous example of a species saved from extinction entirely
by captive breeding, through the foresight and determination of
the then Duke of Bedford in the years following 1895. Pere David's
deer had become extinct in China at the beginning of the 20th century.
The present world population is descended from the Duke's one-time
herd of eighteen animals.
more than sixty collections maintain this species. At one time maintained
in a studbook, they are now felt to be sufficiently numerous and
out of danger, only to require monitoring by number.
1986, 39 Pere David's deer, born in five British zoos including
Glasgow, were returned by the WWF to China to be gradually re-introduced
to the wild. So far this project, which was carefully monitored,
seems to have been very successful, and many calves have now been
Zoopark no longer stock Pere David, or axis deer.
first Duke of Hamilton (1606-1649) admired the deer parks he had
seen in England and created one at Hamilton in the 1630s, a few
miles south-east of Glasgow Zoopark. Such deer parks were rare in
Scotland. Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, a cousin, supplied red
deer. The Duke gave Sir Colin the wise advice that roe deer had
to be captured young because '
have the experience in England
no old ones would live. In 1668 a visitor noted 'great droves
of hart and hind with the young roes and fawns in companies of 100
and 60 together'. The Duke's mother had herself kept a tame
deer suffered in winter so a small enclosure was constructed for
them and oats was provided. During the severe winter of 1691/2 three
died of starvation. Of course, the deer proved an irresistable temptation
to poachers, as well as causing damag to crops and young trees.
(see Rosalind Marshall: The Days of Duchess Anne (1973), Collins,
London pp 55-6)
also Roe Buck [poem]