“Officer, there is a deer…”


Just when you thought you would be safe from stories about zoos and the police…

I was apartment-sitting at a place that abutted the National Zoo in Washington, DC. One night, I was sitting on the balcony that overlooked the area where Pere David’s deer were kept. It was such a peaceful scene: various unusual-looking and almost extinct deer who were munching and wandering around–and here I was, in the middle of the nation’s capital!

Just then a big male deer was going into the feeding shed when he got his antlers stuck in the doorway. They were wedged in such a way that try as he might, he couldn’t budge. He started making distress noises and bucking with his hind legs. I could see that he was beginning to panic, and I was afraid he would really get hurt.

But the zoo was closed. What to do? I looked in the phone book and called the zoo. I got a recording with all the usual visitor info, with a message at the end giving a number to call if this was an emergency. I figured it MUST be an emergency–wouldn’t you? So I called.

An official sounding voice answered. I began, “There is a deer with its antlers stuck in a doorway!” There was a long pause. “Do you know you’ve called the federal emergency line, the one dedicated for the Secret Service?” “Uh, no,” I grimmaced. “Well get off the line!!” I was ordered. Nothing if not persistent, I asked what I could do. The impatient voice said to call the local precinct and then hung up.

OK, so now I’m on some federal psychiatric watch list. But I decided to call the local police precinct.

“Hello Officer? There’s a deer stuck with its antlers in a door.”

“Aw, lady, I don’t need this!!” I could tell the desk seargent was having a rough Friday night.

I explained the deer’s plight. The officer finally relented and said he would send a squad car. The deer was still fighting, but it was now dark and I couldn’t see much. I finally went to bed when I heard a commotion outside in the deer area.

The next day I woke up and looked out. The deer was there, but he had no antlers. His head was swathed in bandages, like a turban. He was a little awkward walking–I figured his balance was off without his antlers.

I went over to the zoo, and found someone to talk to about the incident. He said it’s a natural thing for a male deer to shed its antlers once in awhiie, and this one was trying to do that by using the door as a helper. It was a good thing that I called, though, because sometimes the antlers can tear the flesh and it can get infected.

After a few days, the turban came off and eventually the deer grew bigger antlers. So it all came to a good end. I’ll bet even the Secret Service and police officers got a kick out of filing a report about a crazy person, a deer and stuck antlers.


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