Our animals.

Our collection includes 12 species of Deer and animals which are long lost from the Scottish countryside including the Lynx and the nearly extinct Scottish Wildcat plus the European Brown Bear.

We are open all year round with lots to see and do! Learn about our animals with daily feeding talks, tours, Falconry shows and play areas both inside and out for our younger visitors.

European Brown Bear

The brown bear is the second largest species of bear and also the most widespread, reaching from Russia, across many parts of mainland Europe, northern parts of Asia, and large parts of North American and Canada. There are a number of recognised sub-species across its range, some of which are so isolated that they are becoming endangered. Globally though the population is seen as stable. As omnivores, brown bears occupy many different habitats and feed on a wide variety of food items from insects, fruits, herbs, nuts, berries and mammals. Largely solitary animals, they travel great distances. Brown bears face a number of threats including habitat loss and hunting.

Asian Short Claw Otter

The smallest of all 13 otter species, the Asian-Short Clawed Otter is one of the most adaptable and charismatic. They are crustacean and invertebrate specialists, with fish a much less significant part of their diet; they hunt primarily with their paws and spend up to 80% of their time on land. Whilst most otter species are solitary, Short-Clawed Otters thrive within loyal, playful family groups consisting of a dominant breeding pair and various generations of offspring, safeguarded by their close bonds and teamwork. The species is currently declining significantly across their range due to habitat pressures and illegal trade, particularly as pets.

Northern Lynx

Often referred to as the ‘ghosts of the forest’, Northern Lynx are shy, elusive mammals which rely on the thick cover of dense woodland to ambush prey. Lynx are small-medium deer specialists, with Roe Deer in particular constituting a large part of their diet. Lynx are excellently adapted for cold environments, with dense coats, large snowshoe-like paws, a shortened tail with a black tip to minimise heat loss and sensitive black ear tufts, believed to help detect wind direction when stalking prey. They have remained stable across northern Eurasia, have been successfully re-established in many central European countries and debates are ongoing regarding possible reintroduction to the UK.

Red Fox

Red foxes are abundant in population across the UK and much of Europe, in fact they are widely found across much of the northern hemisphere and have been introduced to places such as Australia. As an opportunistic omnivore they feed on rodents, insects, birds, as well as berries and nuts. They are a highly adaptable species and there are large populations on red fox in urban environments as well as rural areas, they can easily adapt to different habitats and an ever-encroaching human population. Red foxes once faced great threats from fur farming, however this has been greatly reduced. Their threats are more localised now and come from habitat loss, road traffic accidents and direct or indirect persecution. Much misunderstood animals, they have smart survival skills and are very intelligent.

Scottish Wildcat

Although similar in appearance to domestic tabby cats, the Scottish Wildcat differs both genetically and anatomically, with a broad, blunt, ringed tail their most distinguishing feature. Once widespread across Britain, these solitary, secretive animals are now only found in tiny, fragmented populations across the Scottish Highlands. Historical declines due to habitat loss and persecution were rapidly accelerated by cross-breeding with a vast feral cat population, resulting in multiple generations of hybrid cats and true wildcats all but lost to genetic extinction. They are now classified as functionally extinct due to the insufficient number remaining to fill their previous ecosystem roles.

Axis Deer

With permanently spotted coats, Axis Deer are considered one of the most beautiful deer in the world and across Asia also the most successful. Whereas other species have declined due to hunting and habitat loss, Axis Deer populations are currently more stable, however their future depends on the security of protected habitats. Although predominantly grazers, Axis Deer also consume foliage and fruit, often dropped from trees by Langur Monkeys. The deer and monkeys live and move together, working in partnership by alerting each other to potential threats. Unlike other species, Axis Deer do not have fixed breeding or calving seasons, or even a set pattern to their antler development.

Barasingha Deer

A large, vibrant but extremely shy deer, the Barasingha is a wetland specialist and thrives around swamps and marshes. It is known, and named, for it’s often elaborate ‘twelve-tined’ antlers, with at least 6 tines per antler and in some cases up to 10. Although often resident in protected areas, Barasingha move frequently, which puts them at risk of hunting for their antlers and meat and exposes them to the difficulties caused by habitat loss to humans and livestock. The species has declined dramatically over a short timescale and is now confined only to small parts of northern and central India. They are a priority for conservation in these regions.

Fallow Deer

Fallow Deer were said to have been introduced to the UK by the Romans, however these animals died out after the fall of the Roman Empire and they were reintroduced in the 11th century for ornamental deer parks. Many of these animals escaped and they have since established a large population right across the country. Originally a southern Mediterranean species it is now widespread across much of Europe. Males are known as ‘bucks’ and are the only species in Britain to grow palmate antlers which are much flatter in appearance than the classic tined antlers. There are four main coat variations known as: common, menil, melanistic and white. The common and menil varieties have white spots all year round.

Hog Deer

Small and secretive, the Hog Deer is named as such due to the similarities in their appearance and behaviour to wild pigs. With short, stocky bodies, raised hindquarters and head held low, they characteristically rush through thick vegetation or into water to escape from threats. Close bonds exist between mothers and offspring, however they are otherwise solitary and will scatter when threatened rather than herding together. The species has suffered catastrophic declines due to hunting for antlers and meat, as well as habitat loss and degradation. Over 90% of their population was lost between 1991 and 2012, they are now very fragmented across their range and locally extinct in many areas.

European Elk

The European Elk, known as Moose in North America and Canada, is found across northern parts of Europe, particularly Scandinavia. They are the largest species of deer in the world. European Elk are solitary animals and occupy a largely woodland habitat, eating leaves, twigs or bark, as well as grasses and aquatic plants. They are often hunted by wolves and bears, mostly taken as young. Human threats come from habitat loss and illegal hunting.

Reeves' Muntjac Deer

The Reeves’ muntjac is one of the smallest species of deer in the world. They are native to China and Taiwan and may be in decline in some regions. It has an established population in the UK after introductions, and possible escapes from captivity. Muntjac like to occupy woodland habitat, sometimes found along the shrubby edges but they like the dense forest cover. Male muntjac grow small antlers of one single tine, however they also have tusks similar to the Chinese Water Deer.

Pere David Deer

Originally native to China, this species of deer now exists only in captivity, however there may be the possibility of establishing free-ranging populations as numbers increase. A breeding programme was started at Woburn Abbey Estate using the last 18 members of the species at the beginning of the 20th century. This ultimately saved the species after years of hunting and habitat loss in China had decimated numbers. Their natural habitat is thought to have been marshy, often flooded grasslands where they feed on reeds, grass and leaves. Known as Milu in China, they were said to be 4 different animals put together, having the neck of a camel, the tail of a donkey, the feet of a cow and the antlers of a stag while not quite looking like any of these animals.

Red Deer

The red deer is one of only two species of deer which are native to the UK. Once predominantly a woodland creature, they have adapted to open hillsides after mass deforestation across their range, particularly the Scottish Highlands. Much of the red deer’s native range stretches across Europe to the middle-east, and even parts of North Africa. The red deer is the UK’s largest land mammal and numbers have soared after the extinction of native top predators such as the wolf. They are an iconic species, and the yearly red deer rut is one of the wild’s most wonderful spectacles.


This species of deer has a wide distribution in the far northern tundra and taiga areas of Europe, Siberia, North America and Canada. It is the only species of deer to be domesticated by the nomadic Sami people, and they are the only species where both male and females grow antlers. Reindeer have large, flat, almost circular hooves which act like snow shoes while walking across the tundra, and they also use them to shovel through the snow to find food underneath. They have many inbuilt heating systems and a thick, double layered coat to keep out the harsh arctic cold. Feeding on herbs, lichens, sedges and funghi, they occupy tundra and boreal forest habitats.

White-Lipped Deer

True to their name, the White-Lipped Deer is characterised by pure white lips and chin, contrasting with their base greyish-brown coat. They are high alpine specialists – highly agile, expert climbers and with various adaptations and acute senses to support them in harsh conditions. They also share several common traits with reindeer, including ‘clicking’ tendons in hind ankles for communication, and large, flattened antlers. White-Lipped Deer populations are small and fragmented, and habitat pressures and hunting have greatly reduced their overall range across the Tibetan plateau. Increased protections appear to be helping some populations to recover slowly however they are a difficult species to assess.

Sika Deer

Sika Deer are a highly versatile deer species which adapt well to different habitats and diets. Although normally wary of people, they are considered sacred in Japan and the protection this offers them has led to them openly approaching and feeding from humans. Morphing from a rich chestnut spotted summer coat to a dark brown-black appearance in autumn, the high-pitched screams and whistles of rutting Sika stags can be heard up to 1km away. Outside of the rut, they are typically solitary. Whilst native to Japan and China, Sika have also been introduced to Europe, the USA and New Zealand. UK populations are high, particularly in Scotland, and they frequently cross-breed with Red Deer.

Wapiti Deer

The North American Elk or Wapiti is the second largest deer species in the world and can weigh up to 500kg and reach over 1.5m to the shoulder. They are a migratory species, annually moving up to 150km between summer and winter territories in large herds and often across large bodies of water. During the rut, these normally very vocal deer become even more so, with shrill ‘bugling’ of males carrying for some distance. Populations across North America vary widely, with some areas overstocked and others far more sparsely populated. Some of the greatest balance in Wapiti populations include areas where wolves have been reintroduced.

Wild Haggis

The Wild Haggis is a small, rough-haired quadruped creature, native to the Scottish Highlands.  A notable feature is that the legs on one side of the animal’s body are both significantly longer than those on the other, this being a local long-term evolutionary adaptation to living on the steep sides of Scottish mountains. Haggis* thus adapted can only travel with any ease or speed in one direction – clock-wise (Haggis Scottii dexterous), or anti-clockwise (Haggis Scotti sinistrous), depending on whether the legs are longer on the left or the right side of the animal. If the shorter legs do not remain on the up-slope side of the hapless beastie it is in severe danger of falling over sideways and rolling to the bottom of the hillside.

Want to get up close with our species of deer?

There are lots of activities to get involved with around The Scottish Deer Centre! Interact with our tame deer species in a Nose 2 Nose session or take a ride in one of our trailers!

Book your tickets and come see us soon!

With a whole host of animals to see and lots of activities to keep you occupied, plan your perfect day out at The Scottish Deer Centre!
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