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Here are Milu deer

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-08-23 18:43

The history of the milu, or Pere David's deer, is one of the world's most dramatic species-survival stories.

Habitat destruction decimated the wild population in China.

Some believed eating its meat enhanced longevity or even endowed immortality. The deer lingering in the imperial hunting grounds died out around 1900.

But, in 1865, French missionary Pere David brought some to Europe, where they ended up in zoos.

The 11th Duke of Bedford later gathered 18 on his estate, establishing the lone remaining herd.

There were fears during World War II that a single bomb would take out the whole species.

A Slovak-born American zoologist reintroduced about three-dozen of the animals to China in 1985, with the blessing of the duke's successor.

They were taken to the former imperial hunting grounds, which now are the Nanhaizi Milu Park in Beijing's Daxing district, where visitors can encounter the strange and scarce deer.

The species' Chinese name, sibuxiang, translates as the "four unalikes".

That's because it's said to share physical characteristics of the four animals it mythically contains-the neck of camel or horse, hooves of an ox, tail of a donkey and antlers of a buck.

Biologically, Pere David's deer in fact belongs to the moose, muntjac, deer, roe deer and reindeer family of ruminants.

So, the ancient Chinese and contemporary international taxonomies agree the animal shares a peculiar mix of features seen in other species.

Beijing's Daxing district proposed the milu as the mascot of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games last summer. The results will be announced in the second half of this year.

  
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