Similar to a snowflake or a fallen dry leaf that is blown around by the wind until it finally finds its place on the ground, life and circumstances place us randomly in different countries, situations or possibilities.
I have never pretended that I have a mission to achieve in this life; this may be true in the case of many other valuable and brave men and women throughout human history. However, I am certain of my feelings and impulses.
Through time, I have seen in several animal TV programs amazing examples of compassion, bravery and care between sometimes dissimilar and even antagonistic species; this makes me wonder that animals are not quite that different from the human race when confronted with certain situations.
Once, I watched a program where a lioness took care of an orphaned antelope fawn; her instinct leads this lioness far away from her pride, knowing that other lions would prey easily on her unusual cub. After a few days together, both were starving; the lioness was unable to make a kill by herself, and she didn't have any milk to offer to the fawn. This uncommon behavior attracted the attention of some game guards that decided to follow and document in film this unnatural relationship; finally, a lion killed the suffering antelope.
In another case, a female hippo snatched away a small gazelle from the jaws of a crocodile; she stood beside the dying animal trying to save its life by breathing into his mouth and pushing him carefully, forcing him to stand up and run away from the danger; she persist until the wounded antelope died.
In another unusual case, two lions saved the life of a small girl when several men were kidnapping her; they were attacked and chased away by the brave lions; although they had the small child at their reach and mercy, they stood at her side for hours until the small girl's parents arrived.
Although these attitudes may be rather instinctive, I am sure animals may distinguish other creatures anguish and pain and be actually willing to do something to try to help.
I can't describe or qualify this behavior as a human trait, but I think this willingness to help other suffering creatures may be inherent not only to humankind, but also to some animals if a certain situation or emergency presents itself.
I don't have the capabilities or the frame of mind to help people, but I may have a given instinct or desire to relieve deer from painful situations. I can't explain why I feel such love and sympathy for this particular animal. Whitetail deer are so strongly attached to me, that sometimes I think I am as well attached to them.
Recently, I read a newspaper ad about several deer that were kept in captivity. These people were anxious to get rid of this “plague”, and they were willing to sell them to the first person appearing. Afraid about their future fate and cruel destiny, I decide to rescue them.
The only problem was that I had no money to bid, so I offered them some ranch equipment. Thankfully, nobody was interested in these deer due to their obvious injuries and bad general conditions; they had no option than to accept my proposition.
These people told me both bucks were extremely aggressive; they had tried to attack them several times when someone pretended to enter the small pen. They feared to clean the corrals and it was obvious that all that dirt was very harmful to deer.
This aggressiveness is natural, as they don't have enough space to retreat. They surely were underfed and in continuous stress. One buck was especially in bad shape; he had an ugly wound under his chest, and it was infected with bacteria and fungus due to the humid and dirty place where they bed.
These types of injuries are due to extremely hard soil, excessive mud, fecal matter and urine where the deer usually bed for long periods of time due to the lack of sufficient space to run and walk. It is caused by a fungus and bacterial infection, and if the pen is too small and it is not frequently cleaned and dried, the deer won't find a clean and dry place to bed; and to make it worse, if the pen is overpopulated, the deer's immunologic system fails due to social stress, which is what make deer more prone to get sick or get this kind of infection. At the moment of capture we cleaned and applied antibiotics to that injury. A lady Vet helped me in this case, but I usually do all the Vet work with my deer. I am happy to tell you this buck and the other 3 deer that I recued are doing really fine. They were very shy and nervous when I brought them to my refuge Regua.
I managed to build two corrals to keep the does and the two bucks separated, trying to avoid further stress and dominance conflicts. Trying to avoid more suffering or possible hazard to the deer, I proceeded carefully for 3 days to patiently, one by one, tranquilize by dart the four deer and take care of their wounds and health, and transport them to my sanctuary.
I have now had several months with them; at first they were reluctant to stay calm when I entered their corrals; but after several weeks, I could approach them within two steps and talk with them. They even follow me while I am checking the wire fence.
I am very conscious of the dangers when treating “wild” creatures in captivity; I know both, wild and untamed deer can be extremely dangerous to man. I am always aware of their body language and attitude towards me. I respect them as they respect me. In more than 9 years of intensive close contact with them, I haven't been attacked by one, or had noted any sign of aggression towards me.
If they can trust in me, and they are capable of accepting me in their world, even defeating their own natural fear of man, I have to respond and trust them, too. Potentially, I could be much more harmful and dangerous to them.
I just want to share this story with you. I know you love animals and you are always fighting against animal suffering. I hope this story makes you feel better, knowing that at least 4 deer are safe and, why not?....... ˇVery happy!.
Alejandro G. Cossio
See: Sierra Malichi: Living in Peace with Deer to learn more about these and other rescued deer and to contact Alejandro.
Return to: Animal Stories