The initial herd of reindeer at AWCC were rescued from Alaskan islands, which were becoming overpopulated and could not sustain healthy animals. To prevent starvation, some reindeer were removed and brought to AWCC.
Reindeer (Caribou) are members of the deer family and are the only member whose females grow antlers. The cows (the females) retain their antlers until their calves are born in May or June, and the bulls drop theirs after the autumn “rut”. Mature bulls will average 300 to 400 pounds in weight and cows will weigh around 200 pounds. Alaska’s most northern reindeer will often weigh less than those from Alaska’s south or Interior.
Did you know reindeer antlers are a form of growing bone? As their antlers grow during the year, they are sheathed in a blood-nourished skin often called “velvet”. Once the antlers are full grown, the velvet is shed exposing the bone antlers beneath.