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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Rare deer twin in the dog house
Mi-Lu with the Kipper, the Golden Retriever
Little Mi-Lu goes out for walks with his two canine friends
Twins of a rare breed of deer have been born at a safari park - but one of them is in the dog house.

The Pere David deer fawns at Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside are the first twins to be born in captivity.

But one, named Mi-Lu, has been rejected by its mother and "adopted" by the park curator's two dogs - Geoffrey, a Lurcher, and Golden Retriever, Kipper.

Park staff believe that the deer's mother may have rejected Mi-Lu because she was only expecting one fawn.

The Pere David Deer are originally from China and at one time there were only 18 left in the world.

After successful breeding programmes in zoos and parks they have been reintroduced to their Chinese homeland, but are still regarded as "critically endangered".

Our ultimate aim will be to return him to the herd when he's ready
Penny Boyd

Penny Boyd, park photographer and partner of curator Nick Ellerton, said: "When their fawns are very young Pere David Deer hide them in a ditch or under a bush to keep them safe.

"However, in this case, after things had run smoothly for a couple of days, the mother then only picked one of the babies up when she returned to collect them.

"By the time we realised what had happened and found the fawn he was very cold, but it really was touch and go for 48 hours or so.

"Fortunately, he's come on in leaps and bounds over the last few days with the help of our dogs and he's now settling in well with his foster family, although our ultimate aim will be to return him to the herd when he's ready."

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