Woburn Abbey Deer Park spans 3,000 acres and is home to nine species of deer, making it one of the largest conservation parks in Europe. Set within the beautiful and picturesque gardens of the stately mansion house, and peppered with lakes and woodland, the park's exquisite scenery can be taken in by a leisurely walk along one of many public footpaths. Along the way, it is easy to spot the Park's nine species of deer. The famous Pére David's Deer can be seen, as well as Sika, Axis, and Barasingha, and even the shy Rusa Deer. Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer roam the grounds too.
The Deer Park was well-established before 1661, home to herds of Red Deer and Fallow Deer. The 11th Duke of Bedford's keen interest in zoology led him to add 42 new herds to the park by the end of the Victorian age. This proved to be a great zoological accomplishment as the native Chinese herds of Pére David Deer sadly became extinct in the early twentieth-century, leaving the Woburn Abbey deer as the only breeding herd in the world.
The striking antlers of the Red Deer and their distinctive red-brown coats are quite the sight. The Fallow Deer, with their almost-white hues and charming spotted coats, are also magical when seen moving as a herd. Other deer species include the Axis, with their immense pronged antlers, as well as the quiet Rusa with their tufty coats. Look out for the deer taking a quick dip in the pools to cool off on a hot day.
Woburn Abbey Deer Park is a lovely slice of landscape and wildlife, a place to relax and escape the bustle of the world. The Park does amazing conservation work to preserve deer populations and protect vulnerable herds. A selection of the Père David's Deer were gifted to the Republic of China in 1985 to reintroduce them to their native habitat, and they continue to thrive today. Keeping these open spaces to protect and breed these beautiful creatures is an important step in ensuring that captive deer live freely and healthily.