How this heartwarming photo could have led to tragedy


What appears to be a cute snap of a child hand-feeding a stag is being used by the photographer to serve as a stark warning against human interaction with wildlife.

The shot seems to show a gentle interaction between a little boy and a wild animal as the youngster reaches out to feed the male red deer at Wollaton Hall and Park in Nottingham, in the UK.

But the man behind the picture, Paul Biggs, 53, actually captured the photo to highlight the extreme risk of injury to the child and the woman accompanying him.

Visitors to the park are warned against feeding the deer at any time of year but the dad-of-three  explained these warnings must be heeded now more than ever as rutting season kicks off.

The engineer from Sheffield said he was at the park to take photos of the stags rutting.

“Rutting season isn’t in full swing yet but they’ve started sparring a bit,” Mr Biggs said.

“As I was leaving I saw the child feeding the stag and took a picture from a distance.

This apparently cute snap is being used by the photographer to serve as a stark warning against human interaction with wildlife. Source: Caters

“I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing, especially after I’d just finished watching the stags fighting.

“It looks like quite a sweet encounter, but actually there’s a huge risk there.

“I have heard about incidents where people have tried to feed stags in other parks and young children have been injured.”

After sharing the picture with fellow photographers, Paul was met with some backlash and people telling him to “mind his own business.”

But the dad stands by his decision to capture the “dangerous” encounter.

“I’ve had some quite brutal reactions to the photo. It’s definitely been very mixed,” Mr Biggs said.

“Most people agree with me that what’s happening in the photo is dangerous but a few have told me it’s none of my business.

“I needed to warn people about the risks behind interacting with the stags. It’s so dangerous any time but especially now.

Wollaton Park is home to two herds of deer and there are signs throughout the grounds urging people not to feed the animals. Source: Google

“Their behaviour has started to change and they can be really aggressive. They’re only going to get more and more aggressive over the next few weeks.

“These stags weigh between 127-158kg,  so to stand in front of one, feeding them like that, is not the best idea. I don’t think people understand just how risky it is.”

Wollaton Park is home to two herds of deer – 90 red and 120 fallow.

There are warnings on the park website and signs throughout the grounds urging people not to feed the animals and to be aware of seasonal deer activity such as rutting season.

Nottingham City Council reminded visitors to the park of the risks to themselves and the animals in getting too close.

“The vast majority of people who visit Wollaton Hall and Park sensibly enjoy our beautiful deer from a distance and observe the many signs around the park advising of the risks to themselves and the animals in getting too close,” Councillor Dave Trimble said.

“Unfortunately some people choose to ignore the signs or apply common sense, risking injury and unsettling the deer.

“We would simply remind people that the deer are wild animals whose behaviour cannot be predicted and should be left in peace to roam and observed from a distance.

“If anyone has any concerns about an animal or the way visitors are behaving around the deer, they should report this to a member of staff and we will investigate.”