麋鹿 (mi2lu4) or
四不象 (si4bu4xiang4); in Japanese: 四不像 (shifuzou).
The Chinese and Japanese name for the deer roughly means "none of the four." The animal has been described as having "the hoofs of a cow but not a cow, the head of a horse but not a horse, the antlers of a deer but not a deer, the body of a donkey but not a donkey."1
Several other sources claim "sibuxiang" to have different meanings: "the nose of a cow but not a cow, the antlers of a deer but not a deer, the body of a donkey but not a donkey, tail of a horse but not a horse" 2
"the tail of a donkey, the head of a horse, the hoofs of a cow, the antlers of a deer" 3;
"the neck of a camel, the hoofs of a cow, the tail of a donkey, the antlers of a deer" 4;
"the antlers of a deer, the head of a horse and the body of a cow" 5.
The name Milu is the current official non-slang Chinese term for the deers, but it is a much more boring name.
The endangered deer comes from northern China. Père David announced the existance of the species to the west in the late 19th century. At that time, it existed solely inside the privacy of an Imperial hunting park near Beijing
, the capital of China. Chinese records as far back as the Ming Dynasty
report the existance of these deers in the wild. The last of the Milus in China is said to have been eaten off by a hungry set of international soldiers during the Boxer Rebellion
. Supposedly it tastes like beef
, but not quite the usual beef, venison, but not quite the usual venison
The good news is, they still exist. When Père David announced the species, curious Western countries demanded the deers from China. China being weak at that time complied, and several countries were promptly in posession of these deers. Getting the news of the extinction in China, a rich British royalty decided to collect all the Milus in Europe to England for the preservation of the species. They seem to easily grow in population when protected by humans, so there seems to be little worry of extinction, but technically they may be classified as endangered. A herd exists in a Texas ranch, and another herd was re-introduced to China
. Many exist in zoos around the world.
Some of these URLs may be dead since it has been a while.
- http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp, http://www.wildlife-plant.gov.cn/2-hydt/jiangsu1.htm, http://www.tato.com.cn/park/zoo/yilan1.htm
- Taiwanese gov't on their zoo faq page, http://www.zoo.gov.tw/web5d1.htm
- the http://www2.odn.ne.jp/~cbf13020/kumamoto.html page, and also the "sika" page: http://www.ultimateungulate.com/perdavdeer.html