By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — A video on the Wildwood Park & Zoo Facebook page has attracted worldwide interest. The video, posted Christmas Day, shows the zoo’s white-tailed deer eating a Christmas meal.
The meal was part of an annual event designed to provide enrichment for the zoo residents with gifts of apples, peanut butter, spices, perfume, honey, and other items.
The dining deer were the vision of Zookeeper Steve Burns and zoo volunteer Pam Nikolai.
“Steve and I sat down one day to plan out what we’d do for enrichment for the animals for the event ‘Christmas at Wildwood Zoo’ on Dec. 17,” recalled Nikolai. “For the deer, it started with just a brainstorm: fruit or popcorn garland strung above somehow, make a fire place and hang garland and other stuff off of it, a holiday feast complete with place settings on a table, … and that’s the one.
“The morning of the event, Steve and I set up most of the animals in the core zoo first so when people showed up, we were ready. Since it was just after a big snowstorm and pretty cold, we weren’t expecting too many people and decided that most wouldn’t want to walk up to the deer exhibit, so we set it up. That is when the video was taken. I think for me, it was much more amazing to see in person than I had envisioned.”
Burns and Nikolai held off on posting the video until Christmas, thinking it would make a nice holiday greeting.
“Then all day I just couldn’t believe how the views, likes, and shares were growing,” added Nikolai. “By late Sunday it was at 55,000 views. … By Monday morning it was at 100,000 views.”
According to Park & Recreation director Justin Casperson, the video has reached Sweden, Canada, Iraq, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands, Romania, and Serbia. The most popular location was Quebec, Canada.
“Our zoo Facebook page increased likes by 3,948 in one week,” said Casperson.
Since its posting, the video has over 6 million views and more than 125,000 shares.
“I don’t think either of us expected this video to be this much of a hit at all, especially to be seen in so many other countries,” said Nikolai.