Deer Horns In on Shoppers in Tony Georgetown Stores

D.C. animal control officers remove a tranquilized deer from Georgetown.
D.C. animal control officers remove a tranquilized deer from Georgetown. (Wrc-tv (Channel 4))
By Del Quentin Wilber and Nia-Malika Henderson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 27, 2005

At least the deer had good taste.

As it ambled through Georgetown late yesterday afternoon, drawing crowds and causing traffic tie-ups, the young buck entered two of the trendiest clothing boutiques, Diesel and Ralph Lauren.

"It was definitely a stylish deer," quipped Kira Sternburg, the manager of Diesel.

And popular. Some onlookers said the deer drew larger crowds than actress Nicole Kidman, who was in the area filming a movie earlier in the day.

The deer's adventure in the Northwest Washington shopping district began at 4 p.m. and ended about 90 minutes later when D.C. animal control officers tranquilized it as it camped inside a fitting room in Ralph Lauren. The officers carried it outside -- to chants of "Free Bambi!" -- and said the animal will be all right.

Authorities said the yearling apparently wandered into Georgetown from Rock Creek Park. The park's deer population has been growing in recent years, and this is deer-mating season, when males are moving about and frenzied.

Sternburg and other employees at Diesel were tending to customers when the three-foot-tall deer wandered in from the street and trotted to the back of the store, in the 1200 block of Wisconsin Avenue NW. The deer suddenly began to ram a large mirror. Clerks and customers scattered, until store employee Tim Murakami turned off the store's lights.

"Once he did that, the deer settled down and walked out of the store," Sternburg said.

The deer then trotted around the corner -- to Diesel's next-door neighbor, Ralph Lauren.

Sternburg and others speculated that the deer was drawn by Ralph Lauren's equestrian-themed window -- riding boots, leather saddles and bales of hay.

"It is very outdoorsy," Sternburg said.

Ligia Lopez, a sales associate at the Kenneth Cole store, said she was walking along the block when she heard what was happening. She raced into Ralph Lauren and soon saw the antlers.

"We thought it was part of the display, part of their look, like maybe they were running a promotion," Lopez said.

Lopez and others were hustled away, joining a growing crowd on the street. Many peeked through the store's windows, and rush-hour traffic slowed as motorists became rubberneckers. Officers called over their police radios for help in controlling traffic and bystanders.

In Ralph Lauren, where the situation was tense, the deer found its way into a fitting room.

"I don't have time to talk right now," said a store employee, reached by phone at 5 p.m. "We have a situation. We are addressing what is going on."

A half-hour later, the drama ended. Animal control workers said they would release the buck in Rock Creek Park.

Ron Ecton, general manager of Ralph Lauren, said he was glad the deer and customers were safe.

"That was enough excitement," he said. "It's over. We just want to get back to business."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company