A Sanctuary For Deer

Woburn Abbey Deer Park is one of the largest conservation parks in Europe, and its 3,000 acres are sanctuary to more than 1,200 individuals from nine species. Only two of those species are native to Britain, the other seven originating from Asia, including the critically endangered Père David's Deer which was saved from extinction in its homeland thanks to a reintroduction from Woburn in 1985.

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the reintroduction and is being celebrated in a new exhibition in the North Court of Woburn Abbey. 

Image for Our Conservation Work Milu in Our Deer Park

Saving Père David Deer

Woburn is home to the largest herd of Père David's Deer in the UK, which can be seen roaming freely within the grounds. 

The Père David Deer (Milu) were first discovered by Père Armand David, in the Imperial Hunting Park in Beijing. He was a missionary who visited China in 1861 and carried out scientific work, especially in zoology and botany. There is no detailed knowledge of how some of the deer ended up in Europe at the end of the 19th century, but during the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1901 the remaining deer were destroyed.

The 11th Duke of Bedford obtained 18 Père David deer between 1894 and 1903 from various Zoological Gardens in Europe. The Père David deer remaining on the continent disappeared during World War I, leaving those at Woburn as the only surviving herd. There are now upward of 220 in the Park at Woburn.

Since 1947 deer have been exported from Woburn to Whipsnade Zoo, Devon, Ravensden Zoo, Northamptonshire and as far afield as Germany, Austria and Japan.

The most important export occurred in 1985 when a herd of 22 deer were given to the People’s Republic of China by the Marquess of Tavistock, later the 14th Duke. Two years later in 1987, a further 18 were sent.   The aim was to reintroduce them to their native habitat, and they continue to thrive with their herds now numbering several thousand.

Celebrating 30 years, 1985-2015

Image for Our Conservation Work

Limited edition prints have been created and are available for purchase. They feature Père David deer in Chinese conservation reserves today. All descend from the deer gifted from Woburn to China in 1985. 

 These very limited edition photographic prints are created using Giclee fine art printing process on high quality archival art paper. The prints are hand signed and numbered  by The Duke of Bedford on the front of the print. A certificate of authenticity is included with each, with the name, date and number of the print. To purchase a print, please enquire via email to enquiries@woburnabbey.co.uk

Vulnerable Species

Chinese Water Deer were introduced to Woburn by the 11th Duke of Bedford in 1896. They bred well and herds were established at other locations in the UK. The numbers of this species in their native China have declined over the last century, meaning there may soon be more Chinese Water Deer in the UK than in their native country. 

The Barasingha Deer are also classified as a vulnerable species. They can be found in native habitats across central and northern India and Nepal, however they are already extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Woburn's Barasingha Deer can be seen in the grounds around the Paris House restaurant. They do not run with the other deer in the main park as they could potentially cross breed with the Red Deer.


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