Boo’s story is the stuff that Oscar-winning movies and long-running Broadway musicals are made of. Recently, the very sweet and unique-looking young fawn’s photos and videos have been making the Internet rounds, as fans ooh and aww over her incredible “Dalmatian” coat.
Boo lives at Fuzzy Fawn, a “rescue, rehab, release” facility in New York State that specializes in whitetail deer. Her keeper is Leondra “Fuzzy” Scherer, a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, who rescued the rare fawn back in July when the beautiful animal was orphaned at just one week old. Her mother was hit and killed by a car.
“Little Boo is a Whitetail Piebald, caused by a genetic defect,” writes Scherer on the Fuzzy Fawn Instagram. “There are many variations of Piebald coloration, some almost appear entirely white but they are not Albino. In addition to coloration many Piebald have other conditions, bowing of the nose, short legs, bowed legs, arching of the back, short lower jaw and internal issues. Boo’s observable conditions are the nose, back, short legs and one leg is extremely bowed. I’m going to see if a cast will help straighten it.”
According to EarthTouchNews, Boo’s unique color and pattern is the result of leucism, a genetic condition resulting in partial loss of the pigment melanin. It’s a rare mutation — less than two percent of all white-tailed deer are thought to be leucistic — and the affected creatures are different from albino animals, which entirely lack melanin and have characteristic red or pink eyes. Leucism, also described as “pied” or “piebald,” doesn’t cause total pigment loss and the animals’ eyes are not affected.
Scherer consulted with numerous local veterinarians and her partners at Nora’s Ark Wildlife Rehabilitation Center before deciding to let young Boo’s leg develop without the aid of splints or casts. Though her legs are shorter than the typical deer her age, Scherer writes that her condition has improved by leaps and bounds.
“She grew into her legs,” says Scherer, and there’s hope that Boo can one day be released back into the wild.
According to New York State’s Department of Transportation, there are over 65,000 deer-vehicle collisions every year, most occurring between October and December. For Scherer and her facility, Boo’s Internet stardom has helped shine a light on the problem. Through her posts about Boo, Scherer has been able to help draw attention (and funds) to other needy wards as well.
“I’ve been able to reach out to other rehabbers in different states,” Scherer told IG World Club about the far-reaching effects of Instagram. “We bounce ideas back and forth about treatments for the wildlife in our care.”
Scherer suggests that people who want to help hurt or orphaned wildlife should reach out to their own local wildlife rescue and rehab centers, as they’re usually operating through donations and on shoestring budgets. You can also donate directly towards Boo and her deer friends at Fuzzy Fawn by clicking here.