Southwick’s Zoo is home to a 35 acre Deer Forest where you can get up close to our Eurasian Fallow Deer to feed them. You may purchase deer feed from a feeding station at the forest’s entrance. Most of our deer are friendly and will eat from your hand, but some tend to be more shy. Please do not chase or harass deer that do not want to be approached.
Deer Forest has 2 paths; one shorter and one longer. Follow the longer winding walkway through a beautiful native ecosystem complete with a pond featuring painted turtles, frogs, and tadpoles. Sometimes you can even spot a red-tailed hawk soaring high among the trees.
Note for September & October 2017: Our male fallow deer have been moved off to an off exhibit area. This is the time of year they begin to shed the sensitive velvet on their antlers, and they are often more easily startled during this time. We move them for the safety of our visitors as well as the other deer. The females and younger deer are still in the forest, however they may feed a little less.
Deer Forest Rules and Guidelines
We ask that you follow the posted rules when you enter the deer forest and treat the deer with respect.
- Remember that the deer are wild animals and, like any animal, may act unpredictably. Always be careful and avoid frightening or startling the deer.
- Children MUST be accompanied by an adult in the deer forest. Please hold children under the age of 4 while feeding the deer.
- For groups and field trips, we require 1 chaperone for every 5 children to enter the deer forest.
- Please feed them only what is provided in the feed machines as other food can be harmful to the animals. Note: DO NOT give deer feed to other animals (including the petting zoo goats), it makes them very ill.
- Please do not litter.
- For your safety and the safety of the animals, stay on the path at all times.
- DO NOT run or chase the deer. Also, please do not crowd around deer because it can be very stressful for them.
- DO NOT scream or yell in the deer forest.
Remember to walk slowly and talk softly in the Deer Forest to enjoy the deer in a natural environment!
Fallow Deer Facts:
Male fallow deer shed their antlers each year
Male deer, or bucks, lose and regrow their antlers yearly. Their new antlers are covered in a soft fuzzy skin called velvet which provides the growing antlers with a blood supply. This blood supply is cut off once then antlers are at full size and bucks will often rub their antlers on trees or rocks to get the dried velvet off. After the breeding season, they lose their antlers. Sometimes you may see the bucks bleeding this time of year, but it is a normal part of the shedding process.
Fallow deer can be different colors
You may notice that the deer in our Deer Forest have different colored coats even though they are all the same species. They may be chestnut, cream, white, and dark brown.
Adults can have spots
Some species of deer only have spots when they are babies, or fawns. However, fallow deer may have spotted coats when they are fully grown.