Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Elaphurus davidianus :: science

Elaphurus davidianus Pere David’s deer is a rare Asian animal. Its original home is found in northeastern and east central China. In 1865, a French missionary by the name of Father Pere Armand David was visiting China. While looking over the wall of the Emperor’s Imperial Hunting Park he observed a captive herd and later learned that the animals had been extinct from the wild for over 1000 years. He also discovered that this was the last remaining herd in china, and quickly took actions to preserve it. When Father David sent word to Europe about this rare species of deer it aroused much attention and resulted in getting a substantial amount of deer sent to several zoos throughout Europe. This deer is in the tribe of Cervidae, and of the order Artiodactyla. They are a medium sized deer with a height of about 120 cm (male is four feet while the female is slightly smaller.) The weight ranges from 300 (females) to about 550 pounds (males). The Chinese call this deer the â€Å"four unlikes,† because of its odd looking features. Unlike most deer, the Pere has a long bushy tail that resembles a donkey, a hose-like gait, broad, upturned hoofs, small ears, and â€Å"backward† antlers. The most distinctive characteristic would be the antlers. On the Pere, the main stem of the antlers lies forward of the head, while on other deer it lies towards the back. They fork right above the base, the tines point backwards, the last prong is unbranched and the first only branches once. The antlers reach a height of about two and a half feet. In the summer their coats are a reddish brown that dims to a grayish brown in the winter. It is thought that their original homes were in swampy, reed-covered marshlands. Their diets consist of, steppe’s grass, and water plants. They live to the age of 20 in the wild and 23 in captivity, they reach maturity at 14 months and are born around April or May, they spend about nine months with their mothers before they are weaned. The breeding of this species is very difficult and time consuming. Another strange trait of these magnificent animals is their love of water. They will spend hours standing in water up to their shoulders. Most of the deer from the original herd that were left in China were wiped out in 1895 by a severe flood, and the remaining deer were killed during the Boxer Rebellion in the early 1900’s.

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