The initial herd of reindeer at AWCC were rescued from multiple Alaskan islands, which were becoming overpopulated and could not sustain healthy animals. To prevent starvation, some reindeer were removed and brought to AWCC.
Reindeer are members of the deer family and are the only member whose females also grow antlers. The females (cows) retain their antlers until their calves are born in the spring, and the males (bulls) drop theirs after the autumn “rut”. Mature bulls will average 350 pounds 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.
*NOTE: Caribou is the proper term for the wild animal, whereas Reindeer is the term used for the domesticated animal.