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European Fallow Deer


The coat of the Fallow Deer is reddish-yellow to grayish-brown. The back and sides of the coat are dappled with white spots and there is a prominent white stripe on the rump on either side of the long black tail. The buck stands about 1.2 m (4 feet) at the shoulder with the doe being smaller. Only the buck wears antlers described as "palmate antlers" because they resemble the broad palm of a hand with finger-like snags rising out from the palm. Antlers are carried only by the males and are solid in cross-section. They are shed or "cast" and regrown each year. During the four to five months they take to grow they are covered with skin or "velvet" which has its own network of blood vessels and supplies the antlers with blood as well. When growth is complete the velvet shrivels so cutting off the blood supply. It is only a matter of time before the antlers, now clean and hard and to all intents and purposes dead, are shed. They break off cleanly, with little loss of blood. The new antlers start to grow almost immediately. The cycle is repeated every year. Stags in their first year have single, unbranched antlers. With each successive year a branch or "tine" is added and the antlers increase in weight. The number of tines provides a clue to an animal's age. A stag which has an unequal number of tines on either side is said to be malformed. One calculates its age by doubling the number of tines or points on the side with the most points.


Marineland's Deer Park is home to the European Fallow Deer. The Fallow Deer is thought to have originated from the Mediterranean region of Europe, extending into Asia Minor as far as Persia and Iraq. There are now two species recognized; one that is now common in most of Europe and has been introduced to the United States and another that is native to Persia and Iraq. The latter is on the verge of extinction while the European Fallow Deer continues to flourish. Fallow Deer are the kind usually kept in parks and large estates because they are considered to be the most attractive species of deer and also for their own protection from extinction. Over the centuries, man has considerably altered their range either through hunting or introduction to new countries.


Feeding takes place at dawn and dusk for the Fallow Deer. While grass is the main food for the deer, they also eat coarse herbage and will pluck buds and leaves from trees and bushes. In the winter, as the supply of food diminishes, deer sometimes strip bark from trees. Such treatment may result in the killing of trees. At Marineland, they are fed alfalfa, hay, corn, oats, barley, bread, and apples. They are also supplied with salt blocks and minerals.

Reproduction and Offspring

Mating season sometimes referred to as the rut, starts in October for the Fallow Deer. During this period, the males can be heard calling - a characteristic rising and falling whistle that ends in a grunt, repeated three or four times. The males fight each other and each tries to gather a harem of females. Fawns are born in late May or early June. Away from the main herd, each doe bears one, rarely two, fawns. She stays away until the fawn can run with her, then they join the herd for about two years. In times of danger, the fawn "freezes", blending in with the undergrowth while the doe bolts, drawing possible enemies away from the almost invisible fawn. Weaning occurs at 8-10 months.