IUCN STATUS: extinct in the wild
Pere David’s Deer are named after Pere David – a French missionary and zoologist who discovered the last of the breed in the Imperial Park in Beijing in the 1800s. The Chinese Emperor agreed to send a number of animals to Europe, which flourished in captivity.
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Unusually, adult males (stags) may grow two pairs of antlers a year. The summer antlers are the larger set, and are dropped in November following the rutting season. The smaller antlers appear in January and are dropped a few weeks later.
The Pere David’s deer occurs in China, in the 1,000 hectare Defeng National Reserve, where it was reintroduced from captive populations after China’s wild population became extinct over 1,000 years ago.
As inhabitants of open marshland and plains, Pere David’s deer were easily hunted and populations plummeted in the 19th century. In May 1865, there were catastrophic floods in China, killing the entire population of Pere David’s deer.