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BNPS.co.uk (01202 558833)<br />
Pic: IanTurner/BNPS<br />
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Back from the dead - Pere David (Elaphurus davidianus) deer calf born at Longleat.<br />
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Staff at the Wiltshire Safari park are celebrating after a calf was born to a super rare species of deer that was extinct in the wild before a British breeding programme in the 20th century brought them back from the dead.<br />
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In the late 19th century, the world's only herd belonged to Tongzhi, the Emperor of China in his Royal Hunting Garden near Peking (Beijing). In 1895 a flood destroyed its walls and most of the deer escaped and were killed and eaten by starving peasants. <br />
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Following on from that disaster, during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, the garden was occupied by German troops who shot all the remaining deer, leaving the Père David's extinct in its native China.<br />
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Fortunately the Dukes of Bedford had the only surviving herd at their estate at Woburn Abbey and through very careful husbandry managed to breed enough to reintroduce some to China a few years ago.<br />
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The herd at Longleat now number 16 and are a very rare success story for a breed brought back from the very edge of extinction.