Memphis, Tenn. - On the cusp of a big storm entering Memphis, a rare Pere David’s Deer was born in our very own Memphis Zoo on March 27, 2021. The baby boy was born to mother, Piper, and father, Freddie. He was named Gale, which means strong storm, due to his birth being aligned with the intense surge of weather that brought in tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Gale is the second Pere David’s Deer to be born at the Memphis Zoo in the last two years. Only a handful of zoos in the U.S. have this species, so we at the Memphis Zoo are honored to bring awareness to this precious animal. Gale is doing well and getting to know the other members of his herd, including his sister April, who just turned one year old this month. His favorite thing to do is snuggle up in his pile of hay and watch the ducks splash in the pond in his exhibit. He is outside daily and ready for you to come say hi!
According to the IUCN Red List, Pere David's deer is classified as Extinct in the Wild. The animal only survives in a handful of zoos and reserves worldwide. Conservationists have begun reintroducing these animals back into the wild and are working to build a sustainable population to bring them out of their extinct status.
The deer are named after French missionary Father Armand David. Pere means father in French. In 1865, David found the last herd of these deer in a Chinese park. He was able to send several deer to European zoos. Flooding destroyed the remainder of the Chinese herd, but the European deer survived and flourished. In 1985, the species was reintroduced back to China.
The Chinese refer to this deer as ‘sze pu shiang’ which means 'none of the four.' This name refers to the deer’s unique appearance as it looks like it has the neck of a camel, the hooves of a cow, the tail of a donkey, and the antlers of a deer. Their branched antlers are also unique in that the long tines point backward. Another unique feature of these deer is their hooves- they are webbed to aid in swimming.
Memphis Zoo, located in Memphis, Tennessee, is home to more than 3,500 animals representing more than 500 different species. Recently named as one of the top zoos in the country by TripAdvisor® and by USA Today, Memphis Zoo has completed over $118 million in renovations and expansion since the early 1990s. The Zoo’s animal inhabitants reside in one-of-a-kind exhibit, such as Once Upon A Farm, The Commercial Appeal Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Northwest Passage, Teton Trek, CHINA - home to giant pandas YaYa and Le Le, and the all-new Zambezi River Hippo Camp. Memphis Zoo was founded in 1906 and resides on 70 acres in the middle of Overton Park. It is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Memphis Zoo, YaYa and Le Le are trademarks of Memphis Zoo.