Reindeer calves arrive just in time for Christmas

December 2, 2009 (CHICAGO) Every holiday season at Brookfield Zoo Heidi, an 8-year-old reindeer, steals the spotlight. But this year, she's not alone. Just in time for Christmas, two new young females born in Minnesota last spring are now at Brookfield.

"They certainly are. Today is nothing for them. They can survive temperature of up to minus seventy degrees," said Jennifer Maresso, Senior Keeper Brookfield Zoo. "They actually have hollow hair that helps trap air against their body and insulates them to keep them a little bit warmer."

They also have fur on their noses so they don't turn their nostrils into ice cubes when they're searching for food along the ground. And also, their big wide feet help them survive those bitter far, far north pole sub, sub zero temperatures.

"Right now in the winter their hooves are very pointy at the end and that keeps them from slipping on the ice. And actually their broad like a snowshoe that helps them from sinking in the snow," said Maresso.

No wonder Santa hires reindeer for his Christmas Eve travels! They can survive deadly wind chills and deep snow on rooftops.

The Santa Claus and reindeer connection goes back to 1823 when the poem "Twas The Night Before Christmas" was published. That's when we met Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen ... Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.

Did you know that Donner and Blitzen translate to thunder and lightning? Perfect names for leading Santa's sleigh. But on December 24th will the zoo's new reindeer fly?

"Well, we always say we're not sure what they do on Christmas eve. But they're awfully tired when we come in the next day," said Maresso.

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