Père David’s deer is no ordinary deer. With giant antlers atop a head shaped like a horse, the animal has a donkey’s tail, and hooves like a cow but with webbing between the toes for swimming.
If that’s not extraordinary enough, the Chinese deer went extinct in the wild, only to be saved on a British duke’s estate. Now, Père David’s deer is back home in China and adding a new chapter to its illustrious story.
Unlike many deer species, Pere David’s Deer is very fond of water. They will wade up to their shoulders in the water and will also swim. These herding animals are very social. They live in large groups except prior to and following mating when males will leave the group. Females remain in social groups throughout the year.
The name that the Chinese gave these deer was “sze pu shiang”. This means “none of the four.” The deer supposedly has a neck like a camel, a tail similar to that of a donkey, antlers of a deer, and hooves similar to a cow. However it didn’t resemble any of them more than the other.