Wednesday, October 12, 2011
White Deer Fawn Sir Phineas Pinkerton aka Finn
Assistant rehab manager Sara Walsh gets kisses from Finn, a male fawn that is recuperating at the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
While we have many photos of white deer in the wild from around these parts, this is the first picture we've seen of a white deer in captivity. It is being cared for at the Woodfore Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2011
By Gail Boatman Special to the BCT |
MEDFORD — The arrival of injured and abandoned animals is not unusual at the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge. Four thousand hurting creatures find their way to the refuge’s doorstep every year.
But this one was different.
One morning last month, a white fawn with blue eyes and pink hooves arrived, delivered by a concerned resident who had spotted him in her backyard. He was about 2 weeks old and had apparently been abandoned by his mother.
The woman who first saw him watched and waited for two days, hoping the herd would return for him. Finally, she called Cedar Run.
“She told us he was bleating and crying and couldn’t feed himself,’’ said Jeanne Gural, Cedar Run’s executive director.
The staff named him Sir Phineas Pinkerton, or Finn for short. Most fawns are born in the spring and have ample time to grow strong before winter sets in with its cold winds and scarce food supply.
This late-season fawn would not be so lucky.
Despite his coloring, Finn is not an albino, according to Gural.
“We know this because of his blue eyes,’’ she said.
But he lacks brown pigment, a condition that approximately one in 500 deer are born with.
The refuge’s policy is to return animals to the wild if there is a reasonable possibility they can survive.
“We’re good, but their mothers are better,’’ Gural said.
Finn’s chances of surviving were close to zero.
The coloring that makes him so exotic, almost mythic in appearance, also would make him a prized target for hunters.
And there is another factor.
Fawns quickly become accustomed to being around humans, a trait that would not serve Finn well in the wild. So, eventually he will become a resident of the 174-acre refuge.
“We will gradually integrate him with three other deer who live here,’’ said Sara Walsh, an animal rehabilitator and the assistant manager of the refuge’s hospital. “That’s so he will understand he’s a deer.’’
Until then, Finn is living in an enclosed area in the hospital and, as much as possible, being kept away from people.
Walsh and hospital manager Stephanie Stewart are involved in his day-to-day care, a schedule that many new mothers may recognize: feeding, sleeping and playing.
Walsh helps to bottle-feed him five times a day with a nutritious formula especially concocted for fawns. Finn is teething now, she said, and has been introduced to solid foods, apples and vegetables. He also is fond of the diamond-shaped leaves on a sassafras tree.
“It’s what he would eat in the wild,’’ Walsh said.
At first, Finn slept all day, but now, at nearly 6 weeks old, he is becoming more and more active. Last week, lured by the surrounding trees, he began to venture outside, wearing a secure harness.At about one year, Finn will begin to develop his antlers. Already there are small spots on his head where they will form.
Working hours for both women are 9 to 5, but they live on the premises and can be called in the middle of the night for an emergency.
Their days begin with food preparation for all the resident animals, about 20 now.
In summer, when that number can jump to 50 or 60, feeding can take up to half the day. Volunteers help, and during the summer months, three interns work with the women.
Walsh, a native of Colorado, started at Cedar Run as an intern after studying wildlife management at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa.
Most of the animals and birds that arrive at Cedar Run, injured or sick, eventually are released back into the wild.
They are prepared gradually, learning how to fend for themselves in the safety of the refuge before being released.
That is the moment Walsh and her colleagues look forward to.
“We watch them being wild animals,’’ she said.