The creature needed hand-rearing after its mother’s milk dried up so he had to bring it back to his home in Studd Hill to feed it through the night. Now it follows him everywhere and is a favourite with friends and neighbours alike.
Gary, who looks after the red deer herd, elk, goats and chickens at wildlife park Wildwood at Herne Common, said:
It’s not an easy decision to take a baby from its mum but in this case it saved her life. She has been with me since she was three days old and now she is imprinted on me so she sees me as her mum. She will always be tame now but she won’t stay with me forever – once she is weaned she will go in a walk-through enclosure with another hand-reared deer.
The calf, named Wotsit, is not house-trained but knows when it’s feeding time and impatiently butts Gary if her bottle is not prepared quickly enough. She spends her days at Wildwood with him, and the pair can often be spotted walking around the park’s paths. After work he lifts her into the boot of his estate car and drives her home, where she has free run of the bungalow. Gary said:
At night or if I’m out I shut her in the kitchen for her own safety, so she can’t chew wires. She is very quiet although she wouldn’t be my first choice as a pet – I have to have piles of newspaper everywhere because she will just wee where she likes. But my daughter loves her and she is very friendly.
Wotsit is not the first animal Gary has played mum to – he also hand reared two badgers, who are now both back with the colony at Wildwood. The park also has two hand-reared wolves.