Pere David's Deer

"The Herd" by Karla Ortiz (digital)

The Père David’s deer inspired me for it’s elegance, it’s grace alongside its ethereal look. It made me feel as if this animal was of legends or some kind of creature you’d see in a Miyazaki film! However it isn’t an animal that is fictitious, it’s a real majestic beauty that is tangible, that is real but it’s quickly disappearing.

I wanted to make this painting, to remind us that our world has incredible, wondrous creatures that are worth fighting for. Creatures that inspire us all, even Miyazaki! We do not need to go to fictitious realms to find them, they are right here and will continue to be here, but we must fight for their survival, otherwise, they will indeed be lost to legends
— Karla Ortiz

Your purchase is helping Expedition Art and Saving Species purchase land in Sumatra!  Learn more about the project.


Historically, Pere David’s deer were found in the lowlands of China’s swampy areas and reed-covered marshlands. Today they survive in the wild in two national parks: Beijing Milu Park and the Dafeng Milu Natural Reserve. This species can also be found in captivity in many zoos around the world.

Map__Pere Davids Deer.jpg

Family Life

Unlike many deer species, the Pere David's deer is very fond of water. They swim and wade up to their shoulders in the water for several hours. They are very social and live in large groups except before and after the breeding season, or 'rut', in June. At these times males will leave the herd to feed intensively and build up strength, and before the rut, females will bunch together in several groups. Then a male Pere David’s deer joins each group of females and engages in fights with rival males using its antlers, teeth and forelegs. The deer that wins dominance is then able to mate with the females. 


Their average life span is about 18 years.

Hunting Habits/Diet

Pere David’s deer are herbivores.  Their diet consists mainly of grasses, but during the summer they supplement it with water plants.


Almost driven to extinction, this deer now only survives in captivity. As of ten years ago, the population of Père David's deer was up to around 2000. 

Fun Fact

Pere David’s deer traditional name is ‘sze pu shiang,’ which means ‘none of the four’—as this animal has hoofs like a cow, antlers like a deer, a tail like a donkey and the neck of a camel—but it doesn’t look like any of them.

Why are they Endangered?

The Père David's deer can only be found in captivity, they are officially extinct in the wild. As of the 19th century they were completely extinct, however after a few surfaced from being illegally transported, they have since been re-introduced as of the 1980s. 


Extinct in the Wild


Pere David's deer