The red deer plain
Animals as you have never seen them
Several herds of deer roam the park, their habitat a beautiful nature reserve, a delight to behold. Take your time and soak up the atmosphere!
Get to know these animals better.
Antlers are deciduous bones that grow on male deer (stags). Deciduous means that they are shed and grow back each year, in February/March. A few days after the old antlers have been shed, the new ones begin to push through. During regrowth, antlers are covered with skin known as “velvet”. The velvet is full of blood vessels that carry the nutritional elements needed for growth. The velvet skin is shed once the antler is fully grown.
Autumn is mating season when the stag’s call, known as the “bell” or “troat” can be heard. The rest of the year, the stag remains silent. During the mating season, the stag undergoes a huge hormonal change: its rate of testosterone is multiplied by 1,000 and the size of its testicles is multiplied by 5!
At the beginning of the mating season, stags and hinds gather together in a clearing. Competition is stiff to become the dominant stag and earn the right to mate with all the hinds in the herd. The winners are usually at least 5 or 6 years old. Rivals are generally of the same build. If warning signs such as cries and postures do not dissuade opponents then a fight ensues.
Hinds are on heat for a relatively short period: between 24 and 48 hours. Stags therefore make several attempts to increase chances of insemination. Mating lasts a few seconds and the male then rears up and thrusts the hind forwards to disengage himself in a rather spectacular movement.
The deer footbridge
Admire the deer from a 40-metre long gangway that spans their habitat. Don’t forget to learn all about them in the nearby exhibition centre. Learning is fun at Sainte-Croix! (Disabled access)
The deer rut
In autumn, come and admire an impressive ritual, the deer rut. The Parc Animalier de Sainte-Croix is rated one of the top ten venues for observing the mating ceremonial.