A 3-week-old fawn adjusts to life with three legs at Florida wildlife center

By Karen J. Quan
Updated August 17, 2009 07:00 PM
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When their offspring arrive, mother deer generally tell their newborns to do one thing: Stay put. And that’s likely what a female baby fawn in Brooksville, Fla., was doing on July 27 when she was struck by a power mower in a pasture.

Thankfully, the driver of the mower thought fast and rushed the injured female fawn, who’s now about 3 weeks old, to the 100 Acre Wood Wildlife Rehabilitation facility nearby, where founding member Linda Christian observed its mangled right hind leg.

“The leg was completely severed,” Christian tells PEOPLE Pets. “It was hanging on by just threads of skin, mid-femur. So, the decision was made to take the leg completely from the hip.”

As first reported by the St. Petersburg Times, these kinds of accidents are not uncommon during this time of year. After morning feedings, the mothers instruct their young to stay at their bedding area – and good fawns do as they’re told. But while hidden from predators, the well-camouflaged animals often get hit by cars or ATVs, or even stepped on by visitors who don’t see them.

Following successful surgery to remove the leg, the fawn – dubbed Tripod at first – is now ready to get back to her typical daily activities. Because she was just a newborn when the accident occurred, she will have an easier time adapting to life with three legs. “She can outrun me on the grass [already],” Christian says.

And she already has a network of supporters: Christian put out a call out to the public to find a “nicer” name than Tripod. After more than 50 suggestions and recommendations, Christian tells PEOPLE Pets she has found a winner. She’ll now be known as Theophila, which means “loved by God” in Greek.

Theophilia won’t be able to return to the wild because her survival there is uncertain. Luckily, she’ll get to remain at the 100 Acre Wood facility. “Working to earn her keep,” the baby deer will be used for educational purposes and as a “foster” fawn for other injured deer that may be brought in.

Christian says it was but a lucky twist of fate that got Theophila the help she needed so quickly. “Everything,” she says, “just fell into place.”