Orphaned fawns are doing well, adapting to mule deer habitat at Keepers of the Wild

Brandi happily munches on food in the trough while Stormy is shocked by the youngster’s lack of table manners. (Courtesy Photo)

Brandi happily munches on food in the trough while Stormy is shocked by the youngster’s lack of table manners. (Courtesy Photo)

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Cinco teaching Jameson manners.

Two mule deer fawns were brought to Keepers of the Wild in August. The first fawn (Jameson) had been “kidnapped” from its mother by a person that found the fawn in the desert near Salome. That fawn was only about three days old.

The man took the fawn to a local tavern to show to his friends. They were able to get the fawn away from the man and turn it over to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The story made it onto the local television news channels, and someone watching the news was surprised to discover that it is illegal to own or possess any wild animal, even a newly born fawn.

They had known that a neighbor was keeping a fawn (Brandi) in his backyard, and they, too, contacted the AZGFD.

Both fawns were taken to Keepers of the Wild to raise and care for. Fawns that are raised by humans cannot be released into the wild. Jameson and Brandi will live their lives at Keepers. Park visitors have the opportunity to observe the mule deer and to learn about the species native to our area.

The fawns were kept away from the other deer population during their critical first two months. Staff members took turns bottle feeding and began introducing them to natural vegetation and supplemental feed. When their dependency on the replacement milk decreased, and they began eating more on their own, they were moved to a small pen located in the mule deer habitat. That way the new fawns, last year’s orphans and mature deer could become acquainted and the introduction phase could begin. 

After several days, the separation gate was opened and the deer all had a chance to play together. Jameson and Brandi kicked up their heels and showed off to their new friends. Brandi was so excited to have the opportunity to eat with “the adults” that she climbed into the main food trough. The other deer were shocked by her lack of manners and seemed to have quite a discussion as to who was going to be teaching proper deer etiquette to the two youngsters.

Two months have passed since the introduction. The fawns are doing very well and have learned their proper manners, but once in a while behave as mischievous youngsters of any species.

Last year Keepers of the Wild received five orphaned fawns from the AZGFD. One of those fawns (Cinco) had also been the victim of being “kidnapped” from his mother. The five fawns are now yearlings and live in the Serengeti habitat with their “Uncle” Fred. Fred was “kidnapped” in 2009 and was brought to Keepers by AZGFD. He takes great pride in teaching and caring for “his” mule deer herd.

Keepers of the Wild educates park visitors about our native species; their conservation issues, natural habitats, living with wildlife, their diets, behavior and unique adaptations. The park is open to the public 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day except Tuesday. They are located in Valentine, 30 miles east of Kingman on Route Highway 66.