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Rare piebald deer a winter favourite at Cape Breton Wild

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MIRA, N.S. -

He's an animal that stands out from the herd - quite literally.

“Alan” is a piebald white-tailed deer who lives among others of the same species at Two Rivers Wildlife Park along the Mira River in Cape Breton. What makes Alan stand out is his white coat, which is the result of a congenital condition that affects roughly one per cent of the white-tailed deer population.

"A piebald is, he's almost albino. I believe that it is a genetic mutation,” said wildlife park attendant Jamie Rose.

Before arriving at Two Rivers, Alan had a tough start to life in the wild. He’s doing better these days, thanks to good care and medical treatment. 

"He was abandoned by his mother because he had contracted tendons in his hooves,” Rose explained. “He couldn't stand on his hooves, so we had our vet come in, had to do some surgery on him and some physiotherapy. He had months and months of physiotherapy, so he does get a little nervous around us sometimes, but now he's standing on his hooves, and he's doing great."

Alan and the rest of the animals at the wildlife park have been drawing decent crowds during this pandemic winter. However, on Wednesday, they weren't the only attraction as the park's resident groundhog - Two Rivers Tunnel - made his annual prognostication.

Just like Shubenacadie Sam at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, Tunnel saw his shadow Wednesday, predicting six more weeks of winter. Though the season has been a struggle at times for the not-for-profit park during this latest wave of COVID-19, there are a few other animals that have kept at least some visitors coming out.

"Our new cougars that we got last month, they've been drawing a lot of attention. Our three-legged Canadian lynx, he draws a lot of attention as well,” Rose said.

While Alan isn't something you see every day, staff at Two Rivers say he has bucked the trend for the wildlife park and made himself right at home.

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