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Ella, the Loving Deer, Shot Dead at Her Cemetery Home

Ella, the Loving Deer, Shot Dead at Her Cemetery Home

Sometimes something special happens between wildlife and humans. A deer was born in a cemetery, and then her mother was killed. The fawn grew up on the cemetery grounds with a sixth sense for the humans who go there to bury loved ones and mourn their loss.  They named her Ella and this is her story.

On Memorial Day weekend in 2011, a baby deer was discovered at Elmwood Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri. She was curled up in the courtyard of a family mausoleum awaiting the return of her mother from foraging. Ella and her mom had a few months together before the adult deer left cemetery property one day and was hit by a car on the road.  Ella became an orphan.

Cemetery staff consulted with wildlife biologists about the best plan for Ella. They had two choices: release her into the wild or keep her at Elmwood. The former was decided against because transporting Ella could cause a very high risk that she would die of fright. That can happen to deer.

So, Ella became a resident deer at the 43 acre cemetery. This option also held risks and included the hazards of traffic, feral animals and interference by people. The cemetery is located in a city with a high population.  After a short time, Ella’s instinct to forage the land for survival kicked in and she thrived.

The longer she was there, the more curious she became of the humans who visited her home.  She would walk up to them and watch at a distance. In time, the distance became shorter and shorter. Ella would seem to sense a grieving family and hold vigil during the burial. She attended weddings at the chapel and welcomed the many guests who came to Elmwood Cemetery to catch a sight of the deer who called the cemetery her home. Some took photos of her and some aspiring artists even painted her portrait.  Watch a brief video of how gentle she was with humans.


People were not the only ones Ella took a shining to.  Last year, she bonded with a stray dog. They were best buds.  Popular local opinion said Ella and the dog should remain together, but a rescue group called Wayside Waifs stepped in last December to re-home the pup. “Wildlife can survive the winter but a stray dog can’t,” said Wayside spokeswoman Jennie Rinas in a phone interview with Care2.

The dog was adopted by a loving family and named Moxxie.  They were planning on a visit to see Ella, but sadly, it was not to be. Ella was shot to death on Sunday, August 4th.

The tragedy has raised a lot of ire with local citizens. They don’t understand how someone could do such a callous deed. She wasn’t shot for food because her body remained at the cemetery and had not been disturbed.

A call to the Kansas City Police Department confirmed there have been no leads reported to date. Joe DeBold, with the Missouri Department of Conservation, told me there is no forensic evidence because Ella was quickly cremated. Warm weather had the potential to speed deterioration of her body. Therefore no necropsy was performed and the bullet was not retrieved.

“If we had the bullet we could match it to the gun that killed her,” said DeBold. “Now the only thing we can hope for is that someone will come forward with knowledge of the shooter’s identity.” With zero evidence, the only way to catch Ella’s killer is through citizen tips. “The person who did this will most likely brag about it,” said DeBold.  That is the current expectation.

Wayside Waifs has paid for Ella’s cremation and urn. She will be laid to rest at Elmwood Cemetery with a memorial plaque. Her unusual ability to soothe the suffering of human visitors at the cemetery will long be remembered.

A Facebook page called “Remembering Ella” has been set up.  More photos of this exceptional creature can be viewed there. Elmwood Cemetery President John Weilert wrote a loving memorial to Ella in Elmwood’s recent newsletter.

Rest in peace, Ella.  You have touched so many lives with your gentle and generous spirit.

If anyone has any information about Ella’s shooting, please contact the Kansas City Police Tip Line at 816-474-TIPS (8477).  It would be devastating not to find the perpetrator of this heinous crime.

Spread the word and ask anyone you may know in the Kansas City area to report any suspected knowledge in Ella’s death to the police.  In Defense of Animals is offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ella’s shooter.

Ella the bridesmaid

Ella and her best friend, Moxxie

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All photos from Remembering Ella Facebook page

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8:52PM PST on Dec 9, 2013


5:18AM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

Why in the world would someone kill a deer who lives in a cemetery? Does he feel like a "man' now that he's killed a tame deer? I have some other words I would call him!!

Poor Ella - she lost her Mom, she lost her dog buddy, and now an evil person took her life!

My heart is crying for this sweet baby! Rest in Peace little Ella. You were loved while you were here!

11:58AM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

RIP Ella.

4:39PM PDT on Sep 6, 2013

Is there another group I can join--like "Beyond the Human Race"--or "Safe Race for All Living, Caring Creatures".......just wondering. How sad that a beloved wild animal was sad that we have lost our connection to wild places and the animals that live there.

9:23AM PDT on Sep 6, 2013

R.I.P. Ella. What a piece of scum to do this to such a beautiful and innocent animal. I will never understand such people.

4:30PM PDT on Sep 2, 2013

Very sad!! Evil Scum once again came along and took a precious gentil soul!! Rest in Peace Ella. Your day will come coward scum!!

1:43PM PDT on Aug 27, 2013

What a terrible ending this story has

9:58AM PDT on Aug 27, 2013

so sad :( but thanks for sharing

4:34PM PDT on Aug 23, 2013

humans can be demonic. this poor baby was done a raw deal by humans. I hope the person who lacked compassion regard and tender care for this fawn gets the same 100 fold.

6:41PM PDT on Aug 19, 2013

Sorry, I wanted to say " the most I can do", as I live in Brazil and I just can't give any information about the killer. But, at least, I am joining her facebook hoping justice will be done.

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