DES MOINES, Iowa – An orphan fawn is taking some wobbly steps at a rehabilitation home in central Iowa, an encouraging feat for a newborn that endured a rather unusual birth.
The fawn was born Sunday near a home in Des Moines, the lone survivor of a grisly event that killed its mother and twin when the pregnant doe became impaled on a metal fence.
A homeowner called Des Moines Animal Control to remove the carcass but didn't realize that one of the twin fawns had dropped out of its mother's torn abdomen and was still alive, though extremely weak.
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"It was pretty terrible," said Tristin Bauer, Des Moines animal control officer. "It breaks your heart.
"It hadn't had the nourishment that it was supposed to have when it was born."
Officials called wildlife rehabilitator Terry Jones, who agreed to bring the fawn to her farmhouse south of Redfield.
As the fawn gets stronger, it will go outside and join a squirrel with bad eyesight, some motherless raccoons and a variety of other dependent wildlife.
"This little baby has no idea what he is," Jones said. "He hasn't had a chance to know that there is another life other than this."
For now, the fawn needs a lot of special formula and more time to gain strength. The fawn's legs are still unsteady, especially the back ones, which seem too long for the thin, frail body.
"He already follows me all around," Jones said. "Where ever I go he follows me."
By Wednesday afternoon, the fawn's instincts were kicking in. After sucking on a bottle for a few minutes, it put its head to the ground as if to graze.
If Jones has opinions about the state's burgeoning deer population, she keeps them to herself.
"What I do is give them a chance," she said. "That's all I do, just give them a chance."
The fawn was off to a shaky start because it was deprived of colostrum, the first protein-rich fluid produced by the mother just after birth. At her own expense, Jones has been feeding the fawn a nourishing formula.
"We're hoping this is going to be successful, but you never know," Jones said. "It's wildlife. When you put them in a different place it's hard to know if they are going to make it or not."
In the meantime, Jones has no plans to name the fawn.
"You just don't want to get too attached," she said.