The holiday season has a familiar (furry-faced) friend, the reindeer, and whether you see them pulling Santa’s sleigh or grazing right here at the Minnesota Zoo, we think we can all agree they are pretty cool animals. Here are some fun facts about this festive critter…

  • Reindeer have a two-layer coat to keep them warm in the bitter cold winter – a guard coat made of straight, tubular hairs and a wooly undercoat.
  • Unlike many deer species, reindeer calves are born without spots.
  • Born for speed, a reindeer calf can follow its mother within one hour of birth, and can outrun a human after only one day!
  • A highly nomadic species, reindeer may travel 3,000 miles in a year, the longest documented movements of any terrestrial mammal.
  • During winter, reindeer use their hooves to paw through the snow to reach the vegetation hidden beneath.
  • When walking, a tendon in the foot slips over a bone producing a clicking sound.
  • Reindeer primarily eat leaves, herbs, lichens, sedges and fungi.
  • Male and female reindeer have antlers.

Did you know that caribou and reindeer are classified as the same species, Rangifer tarandus? North American caribou have never been domesticated, while some Old World reindeer remain wild and others have been domesticated for centuries.

Sponsor the Caribou today! With your animal sponsorship of $55 or more, you or the person you designate will receive a personalized sponsorship certificate, a plush Caribou animal, an animal trading card with fun facts, and the satisfaction of knowing your gift will help us provide the best possible care for our caribou and for all of the animals at the Minnesota Zoo!