Rangifer tarandus

The Minnesota Zoo is home to seven caribou, also known as reindeer.

Where They Live:
Caribou are found in the northern regions of Asia, Europe, and North America.

What They Eat:
Lichens make up the bulk of the caribou diet.  Other foods include fungi, moss, herbs, sedges, grasses, shrubs, and young trees.

Test Your Knowledge! (answers below)

  1. How much food can a caribou eat in a day?
    a. 8 ounces b. 2 pounds   c. 12 pounds      d. 20 pounds
  2. How long after birth can a caribou run?
    a. 5 minutes b. 90 minutes    c. 5 hours    d. 24 hours

Answer each of the following questions with True or False:

  1. Caribou is based on the French word for “snow shoveler.”
  2. Migrating reindeer can travel over 3,100 miles per year.
  3. Caribou prefer desert habitats.

Fun Facts!

Woodland caribou once roamed northern Minnesota but as human development white-tailed deer populations increased, caribou populations decreased and retreated north.  While there was a confirmed sighting of a caribou in Minnesota during the winter of 1980-81 (which had likely wandered south from Ontario), the last regular residents left the state in the 1930s.

Caribou have a tendon in their feet that clicks when they walk.  They use the sound to keep track of each other.  Download this activity sheet to help the caribou calf find its mother by following the clicking sounds made by her feet as she walks.