Père David’s deer are large and very rare Asian deer that went extinct in the wild but have been reintroduced in some areas. Their coat is reddish tan in the summer and changes to a dull gray in the winter. There is a mane on the neck and throat and a black dorsal stripe running along their spine. The hooves are large and spreading and make clicking sounds when the animal is moving. Père David’s deer have branched antlers that are unique in that the long tines point backward, while the main beam extends almost directly upward. There may be two pairs per year. The summer antlers are the larger set and are dropped in November, after the summer rut. The second set - are fully grown by January and fall off a few weeks later.
Père David’s deer are very social animals and live in large groups. During the breeding season males usually leave the group but females remain in their groups throughout the year. These deer are semiaquatic animals that are active during the day. They swim well and spend long periods standing in water up to their shoulders.
Père David’s deer are polygynous which means that one male mates with more than one female during each breeding season. They breed seasonally in June and July. Males generally begin to rut with establishing a social rank among the males. A male will join a group of females which he will defend from other males. The gestation period lasts around 9 months, roughly around 280 days, after which a single offspring is usually born; twins are born rarely. Fawns weigh 11.3-13.2 kg at birth and develop very quickly. The mother privdes her baby with milk and protection. Young Père David’s deer reach reproductive maturity at about 14 months of age.
Père David’s deer became extinct in the wild due to habitat loss and overhunting. In the late 19th century, the world's only herd belonged to Tongzhi, the Emperor of China. The herd was maintained in the Nanyuan Royal Hunting Garden in Nan Haizi, near Peking. In 1895, one of the walls of the hunting garden was destroyed by a heavy flood of the Yongding River, and most of the deer escaped and some of them were killed and eaten by starving peasants. Fewer than thirty Père David's deer remained in the garden. Then in 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion, the garden was occupied by troops from the German Empire and all the remaining deer were shot and eaten by the soldiers, leaving the Père David's deer extinct in its native China. A few of the deer had previously been illegally transported to Europe for exhibition and breeding. The current world population, now found in zoos around the world, stems from the Woburn Abbey herd.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Père David’s deer total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Extinct In The Wild (EW) on the IUCN Red List.