PRESCOTT ‹ Webster's dictionary defines a sanctuary as "a place of refuge or protection."
The Heritage Park Zoo in Prescott has a new name: Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary.
Executive Director Kim Disney said officials changed the name to better reflects the activities at the park mainly providing a safe and caring home to animals with no place else to go.
This is particularly true with two of the sanctuary's newest inhabitants: two mule deer fawns.
Disney said the siblings arrived at Heritage Park in mid-November.
General Curator Nick Derene said the fawns became orphans when they were 1 week old. They were hand-raised at an animal rehabilitation center in Phoenix.
Derene said the fawns "had just been weaned when we received them."
Disney said the Phoenix center could not keep them and "there was no place for them to live. Either Heritage Park had to take them or they would be euthanized. I said we'd take them."
Derene said the mule deer would live out their lives at Heritage Park.
"Because they were brought in at such a young age and hand-raised, it was unavoidable that they would be habituated to people. There is no hope for their release," Derene said.
The male fawn will grow to about 200 pounds, and his sister will be about one-fourth to one-third smaller.
Derene said mule deer typically live 10 to 20 years in the wild, if they can avoid hunters and survive the weather.
"The harsher the climate, the shorter the lifespan. These deer are from Southern Arizona," he said.
In captivity, deer typically live longer because they do not have to forage for food and the threat of hunters is not a concern.
Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary officials are asking the public's help in naming the two young mule deer.
Disney said the park is conducting a naming contest, which ends Friday. Zoo officials will announce the new names Saturday.
Anyone wanting more information about the mule deer or interested in submitting a name, can call the park at 778-4242.
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