Reindeer Living in Garage in Rovaniemi, Finland

November 30, 2010 • Philip BurgessReindeer

Sami Ruismäki and his reindeer gave a sleigh ride to some children on the upper level of a parking garage in downtown Rovaniemi. The reindeer park will be open until Epiphany. Photo: TIMO LINDHOLM, Source Helsingin Sanomat

Tourism has brought reindeer to the centre of Rovaniemi. Behind the project are Rovaniemen Kehitys Oy, a company promoting tourism in Rovaniemi, and local entrepreneurs, according to a report in Helsingin sanomat.

The Sirmakko family has set up a reindeer park in downtown Rovaniemi, on the upper deck of the parking garage adjacent to the City Hotel. Cars have been removed to the floor below.
”The reindeer will be kept in the reindeer parking garage until Epiphany. Depending on the day, the number of reindeer on the adventure level will be around six”, says entrepreneur Taina Riskilä.

”Entrepreneurs and tourists alike have long wished to see reindeer in the centre of the city”, claims coordinator Risto Saukkoriipi from Rovaniemen Kehitys.

”Today’s tourism is so hectic that not all visitors have time to go to the nearest reindeer farm ten kilometres away from Rovaniemi. They are happy if they have a chance to see some reindeer for example after having been to a restaurant. Tourists’ life is evening-oriented”, Saukkoriipi argues.
According to Adjunct Professor Mauri Nieminen, who works as a senior researcher at the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, the reindeer park marks a new nadir in reindeer herding degradation.
”A parking garage full of petrol fumes is not a natural environment for reindeer but is bound to cause suffering to those animals”, Nieminen charges.

The Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute has launched a study to find out how the increased feeding on farms and the constant proximity of human beings affect the disposition of reindeer.
”Farm reindeer are more domesticated. We suspect that if they are released into the wild they could more easily be hit by a car or be caught by predators”, Nieminen explains.

In the previous winter season, a total of 152,000 out of Finland’s approximately 200,000 reindeer were fed on farms or in the forest if necessary.

This being the season – it is worth revisiting this story on the Reindeer Portal that unpicks the story of Santa Claus, reindeer, and the appropriation of the cultural elements of Sami reindeer husbandry to service the needs of the tourist industry, most especially in Rovaniemi, Finland. Read the story here.