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The tufted deer is a petite deer species from China. As the name suggests, they're easily recognized by the little tuft on their forehead, nestled between small antler stubs. This tuft can grow up to 17 centimeters long. Another distinctive feature of the tufted deer is their fangs, especially prominent in the males.

Elaphodus cephalophus

about 12 years


50 - 70 centimeters


110 - 160 centimeters


17 - 30 kg

Food preferenceFruit, grass, twigs and leaves
Pregnancy6 month
Age at adulthood1 year
Amount of offspring1 to 2
Note300.000 - 500.000
Endangered level
Near Threatened

The upper canine teeth are impressively large, growing up to a maximum length of 3 centimeters. Both males and females sport these fangs, but in the case of the roe deer, they're much smaller and barely noticeable. These fangs play a pivotal role; males use them to spar over fertile females. That's why male tufted deer have more pronounced fangs than roe deer: the larger the fangs, the higher the likelihood of triumphing and fathering offspring

The tufted deer's diet comprises a wide variety of plants. With their narrow mouths, they can be choosy about which parts of the plants they munch on. They often opt for young stems and leaves, rich in protein and low in fiber, as these provide the most energy. By consuming these, the tufted deer disperses seeds and plant remnants throughout its habitat, ensuring the survival and proliferation of various plant species. This benefits not only the tufted deer but also other animal species dependent on these plants and trees. This way, the tufted deer plays a crucial role in preserving the natural balance of Central and South China's ecosystems.

The tufted deer is native to densely forested mountain regions in Central and South China. Historically, they were also present in Myanmar, but there have been no recent sightings there. Their habitat is continuously decreasing due to increased deforestation for building and agriculture.

Blijdorp Zoo takes the lead in the population management program for the tufted deer, determining which animals are allowed to breed and which aren't. Most participating zoos pair up these deer, ensuring a steady influx of healthy offspring every year. In the wild, tufted deer are polygamous, meaning a single male can mate with multiple females. In zoos, one male can also visit several females, passing on vital bloodlines to the next generation.

You'll find the tufted deer in the Chinese Mood Garden and on the Himalaya Rock near the red pandas. Just like in their natural habitat, their enclosure is filled with plants, providing them ample cover to hide away in the greenery, out of sight from visitors. So, they might play a bit of hide-and-seek with you!