Lucy the White Deer
The story of Lucy the White Deer and her eventual fate was thankfully before my time. If I had known about her when I was alive I would have been devastated after learning how she died. It is still painful to hear regardless. We only lived a few exits down from Presidio Park when I was a kid and visiting this area was quite common.
So what is her story? As the legend goes, Lucy and her sibling were two albino deers that were born at the San Diego Zoo. Due to over-crowding issues, the two were sold to an individual who lived in Mission Hills.
Apparently Lucy and her sibling escaped from the yard at some point. Lucy’s sibling was never seen again, but over the next decade, Lucy became somewhat of a celebrity in the area with common sightings of her on Presidio Hill.
Neighbors were said to leave out salt licks and vegetables for her and seeing her graze near the baseball fields was quite common. It was said that sometimes the umpire would allow everyone to take 5 to watch her linger near the fields.
As the city’s population continued to grow, highway 8 was eventually put in. This is directly below Presidio Park where Lucy lived. There were numerous calls to animal control as people spotted her trying to cross the freeway.
Animal control attempted to do what they felt was the right thing, which was to tranquilize her and move her to a more rural location. Animal regulation officer Paul Coplin was called to handle the situation. He was able to find and tranquilize her but unfortunately the dose was too high and she passed away.
Her death created a public outrage and an official investigation was done on the officer. Citizens eventually raised $800 for a small memorial and plaque to be put on Presidio Hill where she lived and is now buried. You can still visit this peaceful spot today. The memorial has three stones, a small drinking pool for animals and a variety of animal footprints embedded in the cement ground.
A small plaque reads “The White Deer of Mission Hill. Bliss in solitude beneath this tree, formless, silent, spirit free. A friend.” It’s a very sweet tribute to the little deer that stole a community’s heart.
Here is Lucy’s memorial: