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Thin deer in captivity prompts social media outrage, but city says there's no need for alarm
Published Tuesday, June 11, 2019 4:51PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 12, 2019 10:59AM EDT
Residents are raising concerns about a deer in captivity at a Cambridge park, but the city says there’s no need for alarm.
The white-tailed deer, fondly known as Lady Churchill, was donated to the city nearly two decades ago. Now, some are worried that the animal looks malnourished.
The animal lives on its own in a fenced-off area of Churchill Park, but it wasn’t always that way. About a decade ago, the area had several animals and was somewhat of an attraction for visitors.
“The City decided to transition out of having an animal area around ten years ago, and we were advised by wildlife experts that Lady Churchill should remain in the same habitat and would not survive if released in the wild,” a statement from the city reads in part.
Lady Churchill is about 19 years old now. A social media post has been circulating, calling out the city as her caregiver.
Some people are worried she’s emaciated.
“This animals[sic.] welfare is the responsibility of the City of Cambridge and they are failing it,” reads the post by Celena Brooks-Ferraro on Facebook.
Brooks-Ferraro’s social media post also says that old age is “zero excuse” for her look.
The city says she is being well cared for and attended to by a veterinarian, and that her thin appearance is mostly due to age.
“A local veterinarian completes regular check-ups and parks staff hand- feed and provide water for the deer daily including on weekends,” the city says. “Her thin condition is likely a reflection of age (she is older than the average life expectancy), as well as shedding her winter coat.”
According to a web page on the University of Wisconsin College of Natural Resources' website, the life span of a white-tailed deer in captivity is between six and 14 years.
Her veterinarian echoes that statement.
“They lose fur in patches and it looks a bit straggly, but it’s a natural process,” explains Peter Rich. He sees her annually for a checkup.
Some residents online also worried that the enclosure is overgrown, but the city says that’s intentional, based on a veterinarian’s recommendation that it would make the space seem more natural for the deer.
Lady Churchill’s next checkup is scheduled for June 12.
With reporting from Heather Senoran