A muntjac deer had to be rescued after it got stuck in the wheel of a watermill inside a restaurant.
The small doe got trapped between two paddles on the traditional feature at the Moor Mill Beefeater in Bricket Wood, St Albans.
It was freed by the RSPCA which said the frightened animal most likely fell into the river outside.
Kate Wright, who rescued the deer, said: “It was quite a sight for the diners having their lunch.”
The animal collections officer said the muntjac was probably drawn under the building by the current and became caught up in the water wheel.
In struggling to climb out to get out of the water, the deer became stuck in the paddles.
- Muntjac deer are a small species, measuring up to 52cm (20in) at the shoulder
- They are not native to the UK, but brought from China in the early 20th Century and introduced to Bedfordshire
- They are known as ‘barking deer’, though an alarmed muntjac may scream
- Unusually, they breed all year round and the does can conceive again within days of giving birth
Source: British Deer Society
“This poor muntjac was in a real fix. She was really frightened. She was thrashing about and loudly barking,” said Ms Wright.
“It would have been very distressing for such a timid wild animal to find herself stuck like that, so I knew I’d have to work fast to free her.”
The deer has been released back into the wild.