Valentine's Day 'wedding' for ram and deer at China zoo

Ram and deer together at Yunnan Wild Animal Park, China, 2 December 2011
Image caption Changmao the ram and Chunzi the doe are the Valentine's draw at the zoo

A ram and a deer are set to be "married" at a zoo in south-western China on Valentine's Day, state-run media report.

Changmao the ram and Chunzi the doe's "unconventional relationship" have made them popular with the public.

The Yunnan Provincial Wildlife Park in Kunming city will be issuing tickets to the event, the China News Service reports.

The pair were forcibly separated last year but were eventually reunited.

At least 500 tickets at 66 yuan ($10; £6.60) will be issued for their "wedding day", China Daily reports. The animals will be clad in "wedding clothes".

Image caption Changmao the ram has not exactly been faithful to Chunzi

But Changmao has not been exactly faithful to Chunzi. He fathered a baby lamb with the zoo's only female sheep.

That was why zoo officials decided to separate the ram and the doe in November last year.

However, when zookeepers put Changmao with his lamb and its mother, he became violent. Chunzi, for her part, squeezed through the fence to be near him.

The ram and doe had been raised together in one group at the park.

"We put them together because they were all herbivores," Liu Gencheng, a park official, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Zookeepers had noticed that the pair were affectionate towards each other, with Chunzi often licking Changmao's hair, and Changmao attacking male deer that dared approach the doe.

The pair became famous after a local TV station aired a report about them.

In Chinese, Changmao means long hair and Chunzi means pure.

Scientists are advising the public not to put too much human meaning into the pair's behaviour, saying that "leaving them alone is the best choice".

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