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'Unicorn' Deer Draws Flood Of Visitors

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ROME — The shy, young deer nicknamed "Unicorn" because of the rare, single horn in the center of his head is drawing hundreds of curious visitors, park officials said Thursday.

People are flocking to the nature preserve in Tuscany where the deer lives, hoping to see him and take his picture.

"We have received so many calls from people and many are coming to see it," said Gilberto Tozzi, director of the Center of Natural Sciences in Prato, near Florence. "Sometimes he comes close to the fence, even if he is very shy."

In just the past few days, some 200 visitors have made the pilgrimage to the Prato preserve to see "Unicorn," Tozzi said.

The shy but budding media star wanders freely around the 2.5-acre park, he said.

"He is tranquil and leads his normal life," he said. "He doesn't feel like a star."

The year-old Roe Deer was born in captivity with an apparent genetic flaw, Tozzi said. His twin, in contrast, has two horns.

Single-horned deer are rare but not unheard of but experts say the central positioning of Unicorn's horn is unusual. Tozzi speculated that similar anomalies might have inspired the myth of the unicorn.

The unicorn, a horse-like creature with magical healing powers, has appeared in legends and stories throughout history, from ancient and medieval texts to the adventures of Harry Potter.