Randall Oaks Zoo mourns the loss of its oldest animal, Pepper, the fallow deer

  • Pepper, a 20-year-old fallow deer, first arrived at Randall Oaks Zoo in 2004.

    Pepper, a 20-year-old fallow deer, first arrived at Randall Oaks Zoo in 2004. Courtesy of Randall Oaks Zoo

Updated 12/23/2020 6:24 PM

The staff at Randall Oaks Zoo is mourning the loss of its oldest animal, a fallow deer named Pepper, that was humanely euthanized Saturday after a severe decline in health. Pepper was a long-time resident who has lived at the West Dundee zoo since 2004. Pepper was nearly 20 years old. Fallow deer live on an average of 16 years in the wild.

The zoo staff said at 20 years, Pepper was struggling with age-related arthritis and other ailments in recent months. Pepper began showing signs of age this past year and was given the best care to make sure he was comfortable until the end.


Pepper made the Randall Oaks Zoo his forever home when he arrived in 2004 from Santa's Village Azoosment Park. Pepper lived with many different animals over the years, including lamas, other fallow deer, sheep, and goats. He most recently resided with two sheep, a fainting goat, and Pepper's favorite companion, Pumpkin, the Boer's goat.

Pepper was always a favorite of guests and beloved by all who knew him. He was eager to see visitors and run to his fence to greet guests for food and scratches. He held a soft spot among the zookeepers, and they were thankful to care for him for so long. They will miss seeing his "smile" every day.

The zookeepers, trainers, and visitors will miss spending time caring for and visiting him but are so thankful for him and the impact he has had on so many people.

Go to comments: 0 posted

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.