The one antlered deer that captured the imagination of New Yorkers has died while in custody. The buck showed up in Jackie Robinson park in early December 2016, just in time for Christmas. Videos of the animal in action, strolling through Harlem went viral. Some residents told PIX11 (above) that the deer’s friendliness made it seem more like a dog.
Experts believed that the animal was looking for a mate. The New York Times reports that the deer may have swam across the Harlem River from the Bronx.
Some had named the animal “J.R.” after he was first spotted inside Jackie Robinson park in Harlem.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Deer Was Being Kept Outside of an Animal Shelter When He Died
ABC New York’s Liz Cho reports that the mayor’s office said in a statement following the deer’s death, “While under the stress of captivity & while awaiting potential transport upstate, the Harlem deer has died.”
NBC New York reports that the deer died at around 2 p.m. on December 16. The animal was being housed outside of an animal shelter. A source told the New York Daily News that vets there had earlier refuse to euthanize the deer.
2. Initial Plans to Euthanize the Animal Were Abandoned on December 16
CBS New York reported that the deer was captured on the morning of December 15 at the Polo Grounds Towers on West 155th Street. Later that day, Mayor Bill de Blasio told the world that the deer would be killed by the city. The mayor’s office had said they were advised to do so by Environmental Conservation authorities.
An hour later, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that efforts were being made to relocate the deer. NBC New York reports that the city defers to the state on wildlife issues.
On the morning of December 16, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, Sean Maher, told the media, “After repeated attempts to provide the city with alternative options to euthanasia … the state is securing the safe transport of the deer to suitable habitat upstate.”
3. The Deer Got its Own Twitter Account
Since landing in Harlem, the deer got its own Twitter account. The comedy messages from the page had been centering around the deer’s relocation to upstate New York. The deer’s bio read, “One antler, one love.” For location, the deer says, “It’s complicated.”
4. Officials Captured the Deer Because they Were Worried He Was Going to Cause a Car Accident
Officials had been worried that the deer would cause a car accident. Mayor de Blasio told ABC New York on December 16, “A deer does not belong in the middle of an urban neighborhood. The deer could not be left where they are. It could not be left in the streets of Harlem. I’m sorry. That is just absolutely unacceptable and dangerous.”
5. The Parks Department Said that the Deer Was Unlikely to Survive Transportation Upstate
The Chief of Wildlife and Education at the Departments of Parks and Recreation, Sarah Aucoin, told NBC New York, that transporting the animal would be “potentially fatal.” Aucoin added that injury and death were “likely” because of the amount of time the animal had spent tranquilized combined with the weather.