Essex deer dies week before being crowned world’s oldest

A DEER which was about to become the oldest in the world has died just one week short of setting the new record.

Stansted Mountfitchet Castle’s resident female Fallow deer Holly died in her sleep on Friday at the age of 21.

Staff at the tourist attraction have paid tribute to her will to live and said the animal was about to claim the title of world’s oldest deer when she turned 22.

As it was, Holly still beat the average life expectancy of a deer by seven years.

She would have adopted the mantle from her ex-stable mate Clover, who was officially recognised by Guinness World Records when she turned 20 in 2005.

Clover eventually died three years ago having lived to the age of 21.

Joint owner of Mountfitchet Castle, Alan Goldsmith, 72, had cared for Holly since she was brought to the castle as a tiny baby after being orphaned.

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He said: “It is a great pity that Holly didn’t make it to her birthday, she only missed it by about a week but she had a great life and peaceful death so that is better than most.

“In the wild, deer only live to about 12 because their teeth rot away and they are unable to eat.

“Here we use a special mix of molasses and feed so they can just suck it down rather than having to chew tree bark.

“Tender loving care and a peaceful stress-free life is the secret.

“We basically run a retirement home for deer.”

The owners gave Holly 24 hours a day care after she was rescued at just two weeks old when her mother was run over.

She was immediately welcomed into the herd by the other Fallow deer and went on to become the matriarch of the flock.