Oh, Deer!

Oh, Deer!

Faced with a growing number of tourists injured from deer bites, authorities in Nara Park in Nara, Japan, have issued tips on feeding the hundreds of animals that help attract more than 13 million visitors annually from around the world. The picturesque park in the ancient city is home to 1,200 Sika deer, which are protected as a national treasure. They can even be found roaming the streets in search of special tasty crackers offered by tourists.

Their cute and calm demeanor can be deceptive, and tourists with crackers can find themselves surrounded by aggressive animals. Signs erected at the stalls where the crackers are sold offer tips in Chinese, English and Japanese: “A polite request from the deer when feeding them.” Small children should be accompanied by adults, and “deer sign language” should be employed, showing both hands to the animals when feeding time is over.

“As they are wild animals, they get angry if people tease them,” Nara official Yuichiro Kitabata said. “For example, if you keep them waiting when feeding, they can bite you … but not all tourists know they are wild, believing they are kept in the park,” he added.

With a rise in the number of foreign tourists, the number of those injured by deer surged to a record 180 in the last fiscal year ending in March 2018 from 118 the previous year, according to Kitabata.  Agence France-Presse

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