November 11, 1950: Tame deer “Bambi” killed at Duluth’s Fairmount Zoo

On this day in Duluth in 1950, some time after midnight, two young men approached a pet deer named “Bambi” at Duluth’s Fairmont Zoo, lured it near them with food, then reached through the fence, grabbed the deer, and slit its throat. They then waited for it to bleed to death, climbed over the fence, retrieved the deer’s body, dragged its carcass to a parked car, and drove off. Mayor George W. Johnson and Finance Commissioner E. W. Lund were furious and established a reward for the capture of the perpetrators. Lund explained, “Anyone who would pick on a pet deer is liable to do anything.” Johnson asked, “How low can someone stoop?” The two also established a citywide zoo committee to solve what Johnson called “our zoo problem.” It was the fifth zoo animal to die in the past few months, and poison was thought to have caused the deaths of the previous victims, and elk, a white deer, and two soudads (Barbary sheep). A male elk had also been poisoned, but he survived. Bambi, according to the report, had first arrived at the zoo as a fawn three years earlier. She had “won the hearts of hundreds of Duluth youngsters by licking their hands through the fence when they gave her food.” Read a history of Duluth’s zoo and Fairmount Park here.

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