At this time every year, interest in all things reindeer peaks for much of the world that includes christmas in their seasonal celebrations. A good time then to revisit a blog posting on the reindeer blog that looks into the history of this over a century old connection between reindeer, santa claus and christmas. A story of some fact and much fiction with myth added.
Read the full post here.
Picture : James Marshall. Reindeer imported to Britain for Santa’s grottoes and festive parades are dying prematurely after exposure to diseases from British farm animals, a senior government vet has warned.
An official investigation has revealed a sharp increase in deaths in young reindeer, also linked to bad diet, poor welfare and the stress of being uprooted from their natural habitat.
Dr Aiden Foster, who carried out the research at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), said the deer, which normally live to 12 years, were badly suited to life in Britain. He said: “Reindeer are highly specialised Arctic deer. The recent fashion of keeping them in captive situations many degrees south of their normal range is fraught with health and welfare issues.”
The warning comes amid greater commercial exploitation of the animals, which are now a common festive feature. Today, reindeer parades are planned in Birmingham and Middlesbrough, and others in cities across Britain.
About 500 of the animals have been imported in the past five years, taking advantage of a relaxation of quarantine rules. Some cases are detailed in quarterly bulletins published by the VLA’s network of regional laboratories. In the past year these have included:
Those of who work with reindeer as herders, researchers, and people in areas of reindeer husbandry obviously think about reindeer much of the time. As a species they are the cornerstone of life in the Arctic and nearly 30 different indigenous peoples in the northern hemisphere. Not so for the rest of the world whose interest in reindeer is very seasonal. At Christmas time, global interest in reindeer soars (see the Google trends graph below). Reindeer and people have an ancient attachment. There are archaeological remains and cave paintings in France and Spain from the end of the Pleistocene, 11000-17000 years ago that have led some to call that period the ‘Age of the reindeer’. In the North, the age of the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) continues much as it has done for thousands of years. Reindeer are not endangered – there are as many as 3 million wild and 2 million domesticated reindeer around the North, with most being in northern Russia. There are also large herds of wild reindeer / caribou both in Russia and North America. There are even reindeer on Greenland, Iceland and the isolated islands of Svalbard. Over time reindeer have shown themselves to be phenomenally adaptable and uniquely designed to handle extreme fluctuation in temperature.