This month’s Zoobooks issue,  Deer, Moose & Elk, will tell you why the deer family is one of the most successful families of large mammals in the world.

At one time, deer only lived in Asia. Since then, deer have spread throughout the world. There are still more different kinds of deer in Asia that on any other continent. Europe has roe deer, red deer, and fallow deer. North America has white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, and mule deer. In western North America, there are also gigantic moose and elk. Farther north, huge herds of caribou, or reindeer, trek across the frozen tundra. To the south, many smaller deer live in the jungles of Central and South America.

Despite this variety, all members of the deer family have many things in common. They are strictly plant eaters. They have hooves on their feet. They have slender bodies and long thin legs. And most male deer have antlers on their heads. These bony “branches” are unique to deer. No other animal in the world grows antlers.

One reason deer are so successful is that they are great “athletes.” They are strong, fast, and graceful. One second a deer can be standing still, and the next it is running 45 miles per hour. Deer can even dodge boulders and trees without slowing down. They leap across streams 30 feet wide and jump over fences 10 feet high. Deer make all these things look easy!