The Last Unicorn: A Tribute to the Late RR Friend “Al”

Well friends, as much as the RR Team has long desired pictures of our own Rutgers Rarity, Al, the famed albino deer of Piscataway – we didn’t want it like this. We finally have the proof of Al’s existence yet with this evidence came the sad news that Al has passed on to that great, big, semi-suburban meadow in the sky. Al was a beautiful white and tan mottled deer who actually turned out to be a she, but we’ll stick with gender-bending nickname for our favorite white steed. It appears that Al met w/her demise on River Road today [11/15/05] and was taken to a deer boneyard in a woodsy corner of Piscataway. When one of our RR correspondents called us with the bad news that the albino doe had been hit by a car on River Road, we immediately leapt into action, knowing that the hide of a rare creature like this is often sought after by hunters and sportsmen. Lo and behold Al’s hide was still intact when we arrived. However, upon leaving the grisly scene we noted a man pulling up and eyeing the corpse speculatively. 

So here’s a final tribute to Al and her brethren – I had once seen her near Busch Campus and mistook her for a unicorn. I don’t mind admitting that I had always entertained the secret hope that maybe Al was in fact a unicorn, despite the many reports that identified her as a deer. So today, my friends, was not just the death of a genuine Rutgers Rarity but the death of my secret belief as well. 

Rest in peace Al, you were a lot of things to a lot of people.

The Albino Deer of Rutgers or My Buddy “Al” (an earlier account)

Many, many people have seen the albino deer that have an affinity for the Rutgers New Brunswick campuses. I saw my first one on River Road (and no, it was not road-kill), by Johnson’s Park at about dusk one weeknight in October 2004. The deer was about 75% white with a brown spotting or dark mottling on its face. It was so shaggy that I thought it was a strange huge dog or cow, but no, on a closer inspection it was definitely a deer with antlers. It was grazing contently near the road, just staring at traffic. I approached it and it reacted like any normal wild animal – just sort of bounded off into the woods on the border of Johnson Park. I have seen him (and/or his brethren) many times afterwards on Busch campus and in Piscataway. I call him “Al”. 

Many people have seen either “Al” or his inbred relatives on Livingston and Busch campuses. While albinism itself is not supernatural (just rare), there are a lot of albino animals living in New Brunswick, and I can’t help but wonder why there are so many animals with this genetic mutation at Rutgers.

Several weeks ago, I sent an inquiry to the Animal Science department at RU asking for further, if any, information on the topic. Nobody has responded yet, and I can’t help but wonder if there is a special reason for that… 


Initial inquiry 2/4/05:
Dear Dr. Bond*,
Hello, my name is Jessica Teal and I work on Busch campus. I saw your name and contact info under the Animal Science department at Rutgers and I was wondering if you could give me any information or direct me to a source of information regarding a certain topic.
My colleagues and I see a lot of albino deer on Busch campus. For that matter, I used to see a large number of albino rats as well on the College Ave campus. I thought true albinism is a relatively rare genetic mutation. Has anybody at Rutgers done any studies or written anything on the albino deer or rats in the campus location?
Again, any info you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
Best Regards,
Jessica Teal

*Name has been changed to respect privacy of faculty member

Response 2/22/05:
I’m sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. Originally I forwarded your note to my boss, Dr. Big*, who I thought might know more than I. Did he write to you? I’m guessing not.
I work on our captive herd of deer here at Rutgers. I am not aware of any studies done on the wild deer in the New Brunswick area. I doubt any have been done. Rats are out of my area completely.
Wish I could have been of more help,
Dr. Bond*

On Tue, 22 Feb 2005, Jessica Teal wrote:
Dear Dr. Bond*,
Thanks for the response. No, I didn’t get a response yet from Dr. Big* (I know it’s a busy time of year). Just a quick question – are there any albino deer in the captive herd at Rutgers? We are just really fascinated by the albino deer over here on Busch….the rats on CAC are another story.
Again, thanks so much,

Final Response 2/26/05:
We do not have any captive albino deer.
Dr. Bond*

*Name has been changed to respect privacy of faculty member 

Check back for any additional updates on this story…

Second Account

The Great White Hype aka My Favorite Unicorn (Without the Horn)

While driving home with Asha late one night after snowboarding at Mountain Creek, our route took us through Busch Campus, past the Rutgers football stadium, home of the Scarlet Knights. As we passed by the Athlete’s Glen area off of Sutphen Road, we saw a group of deer grazing in the grass. As we turned to look at the pack of seven or eight deer, we noticed that one looked more like a polar bear. I pulled over to the shoulder, with my headlights still on, to take a closer look. After having a conversation earlier in the week with someone who swears that unicorns exist, that was the first thought that popped into our minds. “Holy crap, that’s a unicorn”. The animals all looked up in our direction as we got slightly closer. In an attempt to avoid startling them further, I shut off the headlights, and we sat and observed. The one in the center, after further review, did not have a horn. In fact, it looked just like the others except it was pale as a ghost. Its behavior was the same, and there was nothing out of the ordinary about it except it was completely white, an albino deer. I had never seen nor heard of anything like it, so I knew it was a rare discovery.

I was surprised to find out through the Rutgers Rarities account that there were other such sightings. Unlike “Al”, however, this albino deer did not have antlers. It must have been of the female gender. By these accounts, there are at least two albino deer that exist in the area, with at least one being male and the other female. It was a rare sighting, and my only regret was being without camera at the time. We told our friend the next day that we had found her unicorn, of sorts, and that her secret was safe with us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s