November 19 through January 1
Santa is sending his favorite reindeer, "Belle", "Holly" and "Peppermint" to spread holiday cheer at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens! Until January 1, majestic reindeer will be romping at SF Zoo's Playfield Lawn, near the spectacular Elinor Friend Playground.
Celebrate the holiday season by visiting the animals who help Santa deliver presents to all the children in the land. Learn what they eat (besides carrots and cookies on Christmas Eve) and see what they look like up close and on the ground.
Reindeer and caribou are classified as the same genus and species - Rangifer tarandus. Reindeer are domesticated caribou and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists them as "vulnerable" after a 40% decline in population over the last 20-30 years. Reindeer are highly adapted to their life in cold climates as they have two thick layers of fur to keep them warm and what are called “turbinate” bones in their nose, which helps warm cold air before it enters their lungs. They also have specially designed hooves which provide extra traction on the wet, spongy tundra during the spring; in the winter the footpads shrink and tighten, exposing the rim of the hoof which cuts into the ice and snow for a surer grip. They are used by many circumpolar cultures for their meat, hide, milk and antlers.
Photo by Marianne Hale