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Pet Deer

Updated on November 21, 2016

Some Background Material on Keeping Pet Deer

Over the years many people have kept deer as pets, often animals raised from young fawns. And a number of celebrities, discussed below, have kept deer fawns as exotic pets. The do look adorable, even stylish, in vintage photographs. However the ultimate fate of many of these fawns is unknown.

These days we know that fawns should only be considered orphans if you see the dead doe, because they are left alone under cover as the doe goes to graze. So a fawn that seems alone is general not orphaned and should not be touched. And your local wildlife services or rehabilitators should be notified of any deer or fawns in distress. This allows these animals to eventually be returned to the wild or kept in a refuge suitable for a wild animal.

Keeping pet deer is now quite uncommon, or they are kept on pasture rather than in the incongruous settings shown below. Free-roaming tame deer often appear in Youtube videos. For example, Bella the unofficial town mascot of Pulaski. Although, these days, overly friendly deer are sometimes shot as an alleged danger to the public.

Vintage photo of unidentified pet deer owner
Vintage photo of unidentified pet deer owner

Urban Pet Deer

The tradition of keeping pet deer probably began as a fairly harmless rural pastime. However, eventually this led to deer being kept even in suburban and urban areas. Such as the deer below which lived in Beverly Hills in the 1920s and was often seen being chauffeured from place to place.

Deer owned by Miss Bradley
Deer owned by Miss Bradley
Hepburn and Pippin
Hepburn and Pippin

Famous Pet Deer Owners

Audrey Hepburn kept a fawn called Pippin or "Ip". She needed the fawn to follow her around to play her character in the film Green Mansions in 1958. While preparing for the role she brought the fawn with her everywhere. After the movie ended Hepburn did not keep the fawn. It is reported the deer was kept by her husband but accounts differ.

Artist Frida Kahlo kept many pets including a deer called Granizo. She famous painted herself as a deer in The Little Deer.

Problems with the Law

These days if you find an orphaned deer you need to be careful and check local ordinances--deers are not legal to keep in may jurisdictions.

The concerns with pet deers relate to diseases they may carry, and because adult bucks can become very dangerous to people.

Modern Deer Ownership Conflicts

In 2007 an Oregon family lost their pet deer Snowball and Bucky after they were seized by officials. Deer ownership is not legal in the state without a special license.

In 2013 a Vancouver Island resident was allowed to keepher doe Bimbo. And Dani the deer in Indiana mysteriously escaped after being sentenced to death by officials. In California a doe called Floracita was removed from the family that raised her.

Conclusion

If you find a fawn or are offered a deer to keep as a pet, make sure you have the facilities for keeping a large non-domestic animal--and that keeping it is legal in your area. In many cases it is a better idea to leave fawns undisturbed, and when a deer does require rescue to take it to an wildlife rehabilitation center.

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