Zoo Buddies: White-Tailed Deer
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Meet Flower! She’s a white-tailed deer and is about two weeks old now. Flower was found in Lincoln Parish and is now growing up at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo.
“She was found by one of the state workers in Ruston and brought to the zoo because she was running across the road,” explains curator Lisa Taylor. “A lot of people think that these little deer, when they’re born, are orphaned by their parents because the mom will actually leave them in certain areas in the forests and the grasses and leave them for several hours at a time. And then [the mom will] come back and get them when they’re this young and that’s because they’re so little they can’t deal with the predator situation and the mom can go foraging and give them milk so leaving a baby for eight hours is not a big deal for a white-tailed deer. But, this girl was in a little trouble she was brought to us we’re happy to be taking care of her and possibly put her in our Louisiana Purchase Exhibit here in the zoo.”
White-tailed deer are native here in Louisiana, and they are very good at evading predators.
“They are born without scent glands to dodge predators and when they’re lying in bedding their heartbeat is about 175 beats per minute, but whenever they can sense a predator they drop their head and slick their ears back and their heartbeat will drop down to about 65 beats per minute,” says zookeeper Stephanie McManus.
Taylor says white-tailed deer are the smallest deer in North America and probably the most abundant. She says they can run around 35 miles per hour and are excellent swimmers.
When they’re young, they’ve got lots of white spots.
“They fade over time this is just their camouflage while their mom is gone foraging and they’re laying quiet it’s just their little protection,” explains McManus.
Around this time of year, you’ll start seeing more babies in the region. Taylor says if you come across one while you’re hiking leave them alone.
“You might even be approached, sometimes their curiosity gets them,” says McManus. “But if you’re approached just go ahead and have them lay back down, if you want to do that and just keep them in their area, what you do is just press lightly in between their shoulder blades and they’ll naturally lay down like their mother does to them. If you do touch the deer on that occasion the mother will still take care of the baby.”
The zoo is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. To 5 p.m. And you can call them at (318) 329-2400 for more information. They’re located at 1405 Bernstein Park Rd in Monroe.
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