It’s the most wonderful time of the year – despite the challenges posed by storm Arwen, the first snow of the season has fallen here at the park, and it we are now well and truly in the festive spirit! Our adorable trio of tiger cubs got to play with (or destroy depending how you look at it) their first snowman and our drive through reserve was transformed into a winter wonderland.
Wander a little further into Wolf Wood, and you will find some firm festive favourites that live at Highland Wildlife Park all year round - our small herd of European forest reindeer!
Did you know that the species’ association with Christmas is thought to come from Norse mythology, where the god Thor was said to travel by a chariot pulled by goats? In fact, the word ‘reindeer’ translates in Norse to ‘horned animal’.
This has evolved over the years to the tale we know today of Santa Claus and his eight trusty travel companions including Dasher, Vixen, Prancer and our red-nosed favourite, Rudolph.
We’re home to six equally as majestic European forest reindeer here at the park – Freya, Solen, Tuuli, Sven, Regnar and little Lumi who was born in May.
Our Highland climate is similar to the tundra-like conditions that these amazing animals would face in the wild, or that their cousins at the North Pole would encounter. Reindeer are adapted well for winter with large, flat hooves which act like snowshoes, with the hair between their toes stopping snow from clogging them up. In preparation for these harsh conditions, during autumn their hooves harden and develop sharp edges which they can then use to break through snow and ice to find food.
Amazingly, reindeer can also see ultraviolet light which helps them to find food during the colder months.
What makes our herd extra special is that European forest reindeer are much rarer than the common or domestic reindeer and they are the only deer species where both the males and females grow antlers.
Want to meet our magical troop? Join us for our upcoming Santa’s Highland Storytime events this festive season.
On four special days in December, Father Christmas himself will be visiting us here at Highland Wildlife Park, where he will tell tales about his time in the Highlands. He will be treating little ones to an early Christmas surprise and for those on the ‘Nice List’ this year, there will be an up close and personal introduction to our European forest reindeer.
Tickets are £25 per child (£20 for participating under threes) and can purchased at highlandwildlifepark.org.uk/events-experiences/.
We hope you all have a Merry Christmas when it comes!