The Italian Almanac

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deer fawn

Contended Fawn

A farmer who is refusing to hand over a three-month-old deer fawn to the authorities of an Italian national park is to be prosecuted. The fawn was born in a stable on the farmer's land in the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise but its mother then abandoned it, leaving farmer Angelo Di Giulio to take over rearing duties.

Di Giulio has grown so fond of the fawn, which he calls Gerry, that he is now refusing to hand it over to park authorities, flouting a law which forbids private individuals from keeping wild animals captive. The park wants Gerry to join six other fawns found abandoned in the park since June at a rehabilitation centre in Pescasseroli before they are reintroduced into protected areas.

''He's happy staying with me and the other animals,'' Di Giulio explained when park guards came to try removing Gerry last month. ''Taking him away from the place where he was born and has grown up and found affection would be cruel. I'm 60 years old and I won't cry if they take him away, but I know that it will break the delicate balance of an animal that has already suffered so much by growing up without his mother's affection".

But the park has refused Di Giulio's request for special dispensation to keep Gerry, explaining that ''outside the cuteness and Disney-esque appeal'' of the matter it was not prepared to create a precedent that could lead to a wave of further deer adoption requests.