We have someone very special who works with us here at Tilgate. His name is Paul, he’s one of the zookeepers…and he’s very good friends with Father Christmas! Paul looks after the reindeer at Tilgate and keeps them in tip top condition for the very special job they have to do every Christmas Eve.
Today, we got the opportunity to chat to Paul all about his very special job
Q. Hi Paul! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the reindeer. What are their names?
Paul: We have three girls here at Tilgate and their names are Freya, Nana and Iduna.
Q. You said these reindeer are girls, but they have antlers. I thought only male deer grew antlers.
Paul: Reindeer are the exception; females grow antlers too. Reindeer grow a new pair of antlers every single year. Males lose their antlers in the autumn and start growing new ones, but females don’t lose theirs until the spring. So you know what that means…all Father Christmas’ reindeer are girls because they have antlers at Christmastime!
Q. They look like they have lovely coats. Do they help to keep them warm when they are flying around the world on Christmas Eve?
Paul: Yes, that’s right. Reindeer have a thin summer coat to keep them cool, and grow a thick winter coat for the colder months. Reindeer can withstand freezing temperatures and only start to shiver when it reaches -40C!
Q. They’re very beautiful! Can they fly?
Paul: Not yet. Reindeer eat something called lichen. Just before Christmas, Father Christmas sends me a packet of magic lichen that only grows in the North Pole. This magic lichen is what enables the reindeer to fly.
Q. So, do you keep in touch with Father Christmas regularly?
Paul: Oh yes, we keep in touch all year round so I can tell him how the reindeer are getting on. He loves animals!
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Paul!
Don’t forget you can come and visit the reindeer after they’ve finished their epic journey round the world this evening! The Nature Centre is open every day except Christmas Day (so the reindeer can have a well-deserved rest!) so why not come and walk off the mince pies sometime next week? From everyone here at Tilgate, have a very Merry Christmas!