AN ORPHANED deer which turned up in the backyard of a County Limerick family-run guesthouse has been adopted by a herd of cattle and now thinks he’s a calf.
‘Bambi’ arrived into the yard of the O’Neill family home at Castleoliver Farm in early January.
With no food or sustenance - his mother is suspected to have been shot by hunters – the young deer began suckling from one of the cows.
“He is just one of them now,” explained Alyce O’Neill of Castleoliver Farm and luxury cottages which are located outside Ardpatrick. “We just went out one morning and he was there in the field with the cattle and of course we have named him, needless to say, Bambi. He was obviously very young because he was actually suckling from the cows,” she added.
The deer has become so attached to the cattle that everywhere they go, he follows.
“When they move between the fields he goes with them,” said Alyce, a mother-of-four.
He even nudges the six cows and six calves out of the way to get at the hay and on occasion ventures up to the back door of the family home to have a look.
“For the first few days when we would go out to feed the cattle he would run in under the fence into the forest but then he started to get to know us and he was coming closer to us all the time. He even came into the front lawn one day when my husband was cutting the grass,” said Alyce.
Around six weeks ago during a spell of very wet weather the cattle broke out and ventured up to the house. Hot on their heels was, of course, Bambi.
“They came up the drive and I looked out the kitchen door and there were all the cattle and the deer in the middle of them looking in the door at me. He is a real pet,” said Alyce.
The O’Neill’s endured an anxious wait earlier this week when Bambi who takes his name from the famous Disney story, disappeared for a period after scampering into the forest adjoining the O’Neill’s land. Thankfully, he returned safe and sound this Wednesday morning and is back in the company of his beloved cattle. “I was actually upset,” said Alyce of Bambi’s disappearance.
“He gets a bit nervous with other people. He doesn’t mind me when I go out to see the cattle and he now stays for his food,” she explained. One of Alyce’s seven grandchildren, nine-year-old Leon calls to see Bambi every weekend.