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Pere David Deer

Père David's deer is a species of deer that is currently extinct in the wild—all known specimens are found only in captivity. This species of deer was first made known to Western science in 1866 by Armand David (Père David), a French missionary working in China. A semiaquatic animal, Père David's deer swims well, spending long periods standing in water up to its shoulders. Although predominantly a grazer, the deer supplements its grass diet with aquatic plants in the summer. The branched antlers are unique in that the long tines point backward, while the main beam extends almost directly upward. There may be two pairs per year. The summer antlers are the larger set, and are dropped in November, after the summer rut. The second set—if they appear—are fully grown by January, and fall off a few weeks later. The coat is reddish tan in the summer, changing to a dull gray in the winter. Long wavy guard hairs are present on the outer coat throughout the year, with the coat becoming woolier in winter. There is a mane on the neck and throat and a black dorsal stripe running along the cervicothoracic spine. The tail is about 20 in. in length, with a dark tuft at the end. The hooves are large and spreading, and make clicking sounds (as in the reindeer) when the animal is moving.