People who have visited Nara Park in Japan would know how much the deer there love their rice crackers
Tourists from all around the world love to visit the park because the deer would bow before they are fed with rice crackers, called shika senbei. A stack of the crackers is sold for 150 yen (about RM5.60).
Due to the overwhelming number of tourists visiting the park all year round, the deer have never gone hungry until of late.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, which has deterred tourists from travelling overseas, the nibblers are now deprived of the crispy snacks
According to a viral Weibo post which has been liked over 560,000 times and shared 26,000 times, a Japanese news segment reported that the deer have become so hungry to the extent that they have started to eat grass.
"Starting to eat grass again? Don't deer eat grass anyway?" questioned the Weibo user in the post published on 9 February.
Over on Facebook, photos of the deer in the seemingly empty park have also been widely circulated
"This is Nara park in Japan. Due to a sharp drop in tourists, there are less people to feed them. So they are going to the seller themselves," wrote the caption accompanying the photos.
The deer are seen surrounding the rice cracker vendor as if begging to be fed.
It was reported that in January alone, over 10,000 Chinese tourists cancelled their trips to Nara Prefecture, Japan
The staff who usually work in the park until 4pm every day have recently been told to go home by 12pm, reported China-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao.
A local businessperson told the daily that if the situation continues, it will force industry players to close down.
A journalist from SoraNews24 reported a rice cracker vendor there as saying that they are suffering a dramatic dip in sales.
After learning of the predicament, netizens started to pour in their sympathies for the starving creatures
"Yes, [I went] there last week and the deer are veryyy hungry (sic). I feel bad for them," commented a Facebook user.
"OMG! Someone please get the deers (sic) out of there," wrote a sobbing netizen.
"Noooooo, we have to go now to feed them," said a netizen while tagging a friend.
Hopefully more tourists will visit the sanctuary soon and feed these deer-chan