Père David's deer

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Père David's deer

Père David's deer (pĕr dävēdz´), Asian deer, Elaphurus davidianus, known only in a semidomesticated state. Also known as milu and elaphure, it has a bulky, donkeylike body, reaching a shoulder height of nearly 4 ft (120 cm), with a tufted tail longer than that of any other deer. It is tawny red with white underparts and a white ring around each eye. Its hooves are very broad. It has curious antlers, with irregularly branching front prongs and usually straight posterior prongs. The antlers may reach 3 ft (90 cm) in length. E. davidianus came to the attention of Westerners in 1865, when it was observed by the missionary Père Armand David in the gardens of the Chinese emperor, near Beijing. Several specimens were sent to Europe, where they flourished in captivity; those remaining in China all perished during the Boxer Uprising. After World War II, breeding stock from England was distributed to the world's zoos, and in 1960 the species was reestablished in China. The natural habitat of this deer is unknown, but it is believed to have inhabited the swampy plains of China until it was displaced by agriculture. It is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Cervidae.

See B. Beck and C. Wemmer, The Management and Biology of an Extinct Species: Père David's Deer (1983).

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