Local animal welfare association has important request for people visiting the park during birthing season.

Japan celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, making last weekend a special day for moms across the country. That includes one very new, and also four-legged mom, in Nara.

On the afternoon of May 7, just one day before Mother’s Day, the first baby deer of the year was spotted in Nara Park. The park is famous for its herds of wild yet calm deer, which are given free rein to roam around the city as per their traditional status as messengers of the Shinto gods.

The female fawn is (as of May 8) 61 centimeters (24 inches) in length and stands 44 centimeters tall at the shoulder, with a weight of 4.6 kilograms (10.1 pounds). The baby was first observed, with her mother, on the grounds of Kofukuji, one of the many temples and shrines located within Nara Park.

Since the park is Nara’s most-visited tourist attraction, most newborn deer and their mothers are kept at an animal shelter managed by the Nara Deer Preservation Foundation for roughly two months for care and monitoring.

▼ Video of Nara Park’s first baby deer of 2022

Though the baby was first seen by human eyes on May 7, its exact date of birth is unknown, because newborn deer remain hidden in underbrush for the first two to three weeks of their life. That in turn brings us to a request from the Nara Deer Preservation Foundation. The deer birthing season lasts from May to mid-June, and the association is expecting roughly 200 fawns to be born in Nara Park this year. As adorable as they are, though, the association asks that visitors who spot one refrain from approaching, and by no means try to pet, the newborn animals. Not only are the young fawns sensitive creatures, deer mothers can be violently protective of their babies, and the foundation also says that if a human’s scent gets attached to a fawn the mother may stop nursing it.

So if you happen to come across Nara’s second, third, or 200th baby deer of the season, take a step back, smile, and know that in a couple months’ time it’ll be old enough to start happily accepting your deer cracker presents.

Source: NHK News Web, Nara Deer Preservation Foundation
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