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Cerfs d'Eld © MNHN - F-G Grandin

Eld’s Deer

Eld’s Deer, Rucervus eldii, is under threat, including its subspecies, from Siam, which is on the verge of extinction. The Haute-Touche park is the only establishment in Europe that displays them.


Class, order and family :

Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla, Cervidae

Genus :


Species :


Subspecies :

thamin (thamin), siamensis (cerf d’Eld du Siam)

Lifespan :

15 to 18 years (in captivity)

Height and weight :

1.25 m at the shoulder; 150 kg at the most

Gestation :

8 months, one baby

Natural habitat :

forests, marshy plains

Diet :

wild rice, wetland plants

Native region :

Myanmar, Thailand (Burmese brow-antlered deer); Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos (Siamese Eld’s deer)

Conservation programme :

ESB (thamin)

IUCN status: 

EN endangered

Way of life

The Eld’s deer is mostly active at night. Males and females lead solitary lives, only in mating season are herds of several dozen individuals formed. Males then compete, and the victor goes on to mate with the females of his harem. After birth, the mother hides her fawn in the tall grass.

Distinguishing features

There are three subspecies of Eld’s deer: Burmese brow-antlered deer, Siamese Eld’s deer, which can both be found at the Haute-Touche Animal Reserve, and the incredibly rare Rucervus eldii eldii from India. The particular shape of its antlers, which go backwards and curl forward, is reminiscent of a musical instrument, the lyre.

The male, who is darker than the female, has longer and thicker hair under the neck.


The Eld’s deer is a victim of hunting, war and the loss of its natural habitat to make way for agriculture and livestock. It is also susceptible to diseases from domestic animals.

Of the three subspecies of Eld’s deer, the Burmese brow-antlered deer has the largest wild population, numbering around 2,000 individuals (versus the 150 Siamese Eld's deer and 150 Cervus e. eldii). In the early 2000s, there were 1,000 in captivity (mainly Burmese brow-antlered deer). Thanks to the breeding plans that have been established, the small zoo population represents a chance for survival for this deer.

The Haute-Touche Animal Reserve is the only park outside of Asia to display the siamensis subspecies. After being declared extinct in the wild, a small population of barely 150 individuals was discovered, remaining only in a few enclaves of its former territory (Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam). In order to increase the genetic variability of this population in captivity (and therefore its chances of survival), reproduction needs to be permitted between Asian and European individuals. With this in mind, the team from the Haute-Touche park is working with the zoo in Bangkok in order to collect semen from the Thai males. Back in France, the sperm is frozen in liquid nitrogen. Some of our females will be inseminated and will give birth to offspring with a richer genetic make-up.

Cerfs d'Eld © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Cerfs d'Eld © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Cerfs d'Eld © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Cerfs d'Eld © MNHN - F-G Grandin