Oh deer, I think I love you
Updated: 2011-12-03 07:39
By Zhang Yue and Guo Anfei (China Daily)
KUNMING - It was a Friday morning and two lovers were going through a heart-searing breakup.
Long Hair the ram and Chunzi the doe share an intimate moment. Provided to China Daily
As he was being dragged away from his lover, he became furious and banged on the fence separating them, trying to get close to her again.
She was equally desperate, and with all her efforts squeezed through the fence and rushed to him.
A sweet kiss followed.
No, this was not a passionate Romeo-and-Juliet love scene.
In fact, the couple is not even human. He is a two-year-old ram, she a three-year-old doe. They have been living together in the Yunnan Wild Animal Park.
"The sheep and the deer have been in love with each other since last year," Li Li, a staff member with the zoo, told China Daily.
In a fenced area about half the size of a basketball court, six deer and three sheep are kept at the zoo. The amorous ram, known as Long Hair, has fascinated the doe, Chunzi, since they were little.
"Chunzi is the prettiest deer among the six," said Liu Gencheng, a 24-year-old keeper in the zoo who has been taking care of the couple for more than a year. "She was chased by other bucks. But Chunzi loves playing with Long Hair the most. The two have spent a lot of time together since they were little."
Liu said he did not make a big deal out of it when he discovered the couple was regularly having sex over the past year.
"I've seen that many times. I know they usually do it in the morning."
It was only two weeks ago that the zoo's vet, Liu Lingxiang, accidentally spotted the two having sex, and immediately reported it to the zoo manager.
"This is hard to believe," said Lingxiang, who has worked as a vet for more than 10 years. "My colleagues and I have never seen sex between two different species of animals."
The pair became famous after the local TV channel reported their relationship. And they became a national topic after pictures showing their intimacy were posted on the zoo's micro blog.
Thousands, including some celebrities, left their comments. Many gave their blessings but some, in particular animal experts, left doubts.
"Sex between different species of animals is not natural," argued Long Yongcheng from the US-based Nature Conservancy.
To answer the doubts, Li watched the pair closely for four days and finally caught them together on film. He then posted the photos on the website.
Cai Yue, a Beijing-based animal lover, is one of the fanatic web followers of the unusual love affair.
"When I first learned the news, I thought this might be a joke," Cai told China Daily. "But when I saw these photos, the love in their eyes touched my heart."
The zoo manager vowed not to separate them even when some netizens said they were offended by the photos. But after Long Hair fathered a baby lamb with the only female sheep in the zoo last weekend, the manager changed his mind.
"The baby sheep needs care from both parents," he said. "Since the sheep and the deer are not able to have kids, we decided to separate them."
The zoo's plan was to form a "normal family" for Long Hair, letting him live with the female sheep and his baby instead of staying with Chunzi all the time.
However, the separation, which lasted for more than two hours on Friday, was like a dramatic scene from a love story.
"Long Hair even hurt his baby and the female sheep with his horns. It scared us," Li said. "And Chunzi has been trying to lick Long Hair through the fence."
The zoo relented and promised it would let Long Hair and Chunzi "live happily ever after".
"We won't do anything to separate them. They will be together," Li said.
There was no word, however, on what the female sheep thought of the arrangement.