Move aside Mary and her little lamb. There’s a new duo in town. Keeper Stu and his newborn black fallow fawn.
Bonnie was born at Wildwood Wildlife Park, Herne Bay, just over three weeks ago. Rejected by her mother at birth, she has been hand-reared by the keepers ever since.
With previous newborns, the keepers at Wildwood have left the mothers to look after and rear their offspring but on this occasion Bonnie’s mother struggled to bond with her.
A few hours after she was born, Bonnie went for a walk around the paddock looking for her mother. She was found wandering around looking lost so the keepers put her back in the house hoping her mother would come back. But she didn’t return and they had to step in.
And from that moment on she decided keppers Stu (Stewart Cuthbert) was her mother. They’ve been inseparable ever since. Stu says;
“I managed to give Bonnie her first bottle and started doing the day feeds. My colleague Gary has the lovely job of doing the night feeds! His daughter actually chose Bonnie’s name.
“However, she seems to think I’m her mum and has even been known to turn her nose up when someone else tries to feed her.”
Visitors to the wildlife park have been able to glimpse Bonnie loyally trotting along behind Stu as he takes her on a her daily walk, panicking if she loses sight of him for just a second.
Bonnie’s mother reared her first fawn last year, so it was a surprise to the Wildwood team that she rejected Bonnie – as Stu explains:
“For some reason she didn’t get the mother-fawn bond that they normally do where they clean them up. She just wasn’t too sure of her.
“Normally with the deer species they’ll have the young and set them down somewhere and go back and feed but on this occasion mum wasn’t showing any interest in her at all – that’s why we stepped in and decided it was time to give her a bottle. And she’s followed me ever since.”
Bonnie will be on a bottle for up to about three months. The keepers will then gradually reduce her feeds and reintroduce her into the herd. Luckily, Wildwood has four other hand-reared animals in the paddock and the hoof stock keepers are confident they can work with Bonnie to successfully get her back into the group.
Now all we need to worry about is how Stu is going to cope when the time comes!