Sika deer (Cervus nippon) living in the famous Nara Park, a popular Japanese tourist destination, have become accustomed to a rather charmed life. These docile deer roam the open park and are hand fed by tourists who pay for rice cracker treats to hand out. Some deer are trained to bow in exchange for a treat while others are rewarded simply for being cute and friendly. However, as seen in similar situations around the world, the ongoing pandemic’s effect on tourism greatly reduced these animals’ access to easy calories. Since early March of last year, the deer have been venturing further into the city to find food, putting themselves in danger of being hit by cars or ingesting plastic products. Both man and deer are adjusting as deer-friendly, non-plastic shopping bags were introduced in Nara and the deer began eating more local plants which may actually benefit their health overall.
Sketch contributed by Melissa Jones. Fact contributed by Adrian Perez.
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Roth, A. (2020, March 16). Brawling monkeys. Wandering Deer. Blame Coronavirus. Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/science/hungry-monkeys-deer-coronavirus.html