A 17-minute video of the apparent rescue and rehabilitation of a tiny, abandoned fawn has captured hearts — and eyeballs — in the four weeks since a Yellowstone National Park-area man posted it.
The video, posted to YouTube Sept. 28 by Darius Sasnauskas, shows a white-tailed doe and her two young offspring walking through the Sasnauskas’ scenic and green backyard in spring.
One of the babies repeatedly stumbles, seemingly unable to put weight on one of its front legs. The mother continues on with her other baby, leaving the injured fawn lying in the grass.
In Sasnauskas’ edited video, which includes captions, multiple bears wander nearby, just outside the fence around his property.
“With so many predators around, she had no chance to survive on her own,” the video’s titles state.
Sasnauskas, described by viral content website Bored Panda as a Lithuanian outdoorsman, steps in, and the next morning the baby deer is getting to know his dogs and cats inside the house.
Sasnauskas makes the fawn a brace “from an oatmeal box” and teaches her to drink enthusiastically from a bottle — every four hours — while the dogs and cats watch.
“I do not support keeping wild animals as pets, but this was a special situation,” Sasnauskas wrote in the description of the video on YouTube.
One of Sasnauskas’ dogs, Mack, takes the baby deer in, guarding her, encouraging her and playing with her.
“He was a very good dad, always kept a close eye and didn’t let her wonder off,” the video states.
The video appears to have first been promoted Oct. 23 by animal-oriented website The Dodo, which reported that Sasnauskas said in an email he had cared for the fawn for two weeks. Eventually, she recovers.
“The baby fawn seems strong enough, time to find her mom,” the video states.
Sasnauskas takes the fawn to the middle of a field, where he tried to lie low, hoping a doe would take her in.
“There could be some mother looking for deer, and I will try to give the little fawn I have to her to adopt,” Sasnauskas says, talking to the camera.
But the release doesn’t go as planned. The fawn will not leave Sasnauskas’ side, kissing him on the cheek while other deer look on from across the field.
When Sasnauskas tries to walk away, the tiny deer scampers after him.
After several evenings, Sasnauskas states in the video, the mother deer appeared and took the baby back in — at a time when, he said, he did not have his camera.
“The doe and two her fawns [are] still around, we [saw] them through the summer and the autumn,” he states in the video description.
The video concludes with footage of the mother and two growing young deer bounding around — a few months later, according to the caption.
As of Monday, when many sites were posting the video, it had been viewed more than 1.1 million times.
“I didn’t expect this story to become so popular,” Sasnauskas writes in the video caption. “I am sure that any of us with a little bit of a conscience about our existence, with love for nature and animals would do the same.”