A seven-year-old girl has been attacked by a deer in Richmond’s Bushy Park and rushed to hospital.
The girl sustained a thigh injury on Wednesday afternoon during a visit with her family and was subsequently airlifted for further treatment, the park confirms.
The extent of her injuries is not yet known.
“We’re very sorry to hear that a girl has been gored in the thigh by a stag,” said Assistant Park Manager Bill Swan. “This is a very frightening incident.
“We sincerely hope she makes a full and speedy recovery.”
Home to around 300 deer, the park says its message is clear in warning visitors to take precaution. “Eye witnesses reported to us that the family was standing very close to the stag and taking photos, even though there are prominent signs up in the Park telling people not to get too close to the deer,” said Swan.
“We have warning signs at key locations across Bushy Park asking people to stay at least 50m away from the deer.”
Rutting season, a time of year during which male deer exhibit particularly aggressive behaviour in order to attract females, is thought to have been the main cause of the stag’s behaviour.
“This distressing incident is an unfortunate but powerful warning to everyone why it is dangerous to approach stags during the autumn,” Swan said. “They are especially unpredictable at this time of year and can act defensively if they are aggravated or feel cornered.
“They are immensely strong and can move very fast to defend themselves.
“People must keep their distance to prevent such incidences occurring.”
Warning people of the increased risk during this time of year, The Royal Parks published a press release earlier this month stating that “The male deer, pumped full of testosterone, roar, bark and clash antlers to fight off rivals and attract as many females as possible.
“If you are taking snaps, use a long lens and consider visiting at off peak times.”
A similar incident happened last year in Richmond park, when Yuan Li, a fashion designer from Leystone, was charged by a male deer and sustained a series of puncture wounds.
At 1,100 acres, Bushy Park is one of the largest of London’s eight Royal Parks, second only to Richmond Park’s 2500 acres.