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World rarity in Bohemia – white deer

 
photo:  (oborazleby.cz)
 

The white deer is a fairytale-like creature with entirely white fur and mesmeric blue eyes, whose origin is shredded by mystery. This rare species lives in only a few countries throughout the whole world and it is not possible to meet them in wild nature. Nevertheless, you can meet them in the Czech Republic. 

 
The origin of the white deer has never been unambiguously proven, but with high probability they might have come from Persia, where they are now no longer found. They are not albinos, as their name might suggest. A genuine albino is an animal that does not have any pigment and whose iris are red. The herds of white deer in the Czech Republic belong to special species (Cervus elaphus maral), with white bodies and dark, often blue eyes. 

These exotic animals arrived in Bohemia around 1780 and were owned by significant noble families of the time including the Schwarzenberg, Wallenstein, Chernin and Kinsky families. Breeding white deer was very demanding and their numbers were continuously on the decrease. Around 1824, count Kinsky gave the few last deer to count Matthias Thun Hohenstein from Žehušice, who is merited for their preservation. After years of breeding, the number of white deer reached 200. However, other breeding experiments and constant interbreeding within the same herd led to a decrease of the population to critical minimums and only 28 deer were left in the Žehušice deer park after the Second World War.

A second breeding herd was established to preserve the white deer in 1973. It was meant to rule out inter-family breeding within the herd. The location plays a crucial part in breeding white deer and finally the deer park by Žleby Castle near Čáslav (Map) was chosen. The white deer seem to prosper here very well and new offspring promise the foundation of new herds. You can see the white deer, apart from at the well-known Háj deer park at Žleby Castle, at Janovice near Heřmanův Městec (Map), at the Kopidlno deer park (Map) near Jičín or the Žehušice deer park (Map) near Kutná Hora. The population of white deer in these deer park reaches nearly three hundred animals.
 


 
Author: Petra Hubálková
 
Added: 02.11.2012
 
 
 

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