Santa’s Reindeers Come to Santa Barbara

Source: Santa Barbara Zoo

For the first time in its 54-year history, the Santa Barbara Zoo will exhibit reindeer, on view only this holiday season from Wednesday, November 22, 2017, to Monday, January 1, 2018.

Two male reindeer, an adult named Holiday and a first-year calf named Lightning, will take up residence on the lawn opposite the Cats of Africa exhibit for holiday viewing. Winter-themed and holiday-related activities take place throughout the season, and Santa will be available for gift requests and photos on Wednesdays through Sundays from November 22 until Christmas Eve, December 24. There is no extra charge to view the reindeer. 

The Zoo is open with the special hours of 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. It is open regular hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“I heard a rumor that Donner and Blitzen are retiring, and these two are the up-and-comers for their flying jobs,” jokes Zoo CEO Rich Block. “We’re their warm-weather ‘hoof camp’ due to our great climate. They have big harnesses to fill, and we’re here to support them with great nutrition, a highly trained keeper staff, a full-time vet, and ocean views from their temporary paddock across from the lions. Our male lion Chadwick has agreed to an 8 p.m. roaring curfew so the reindeer can get their beauty sleep.”

Lightning and Holiday allow the Zoo to help answer questions from local children such as: Do reindeer really exist?  What’s the difference between a caribou and a reindeer?  Do both male and female reindeer get antlers?  What’s the difference between antlers and horns? How big are their antlers? Do they make sounds? Can they fly?

“This will be the first time many local residents have ever seen a reindeer,” says Block. “The Zoo is proud to present these two to the community this holiday season. Both of them have antlers, though Holiday’s are a bit puny compared to Lightning’s huge display. Kids are going to love them, even if they don’t really fly.”

The two reindeer are on loan from Windswept Ranch, located in the foothills above Antelope Valley near Tehachapi, California. The facility is home to a collection of animals including camels, llamas, zebra, alpacas, sheep, goats, horses, deer, and reindeer. Many of the animals have been rescued or rehabilitated. For more information, visit

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The Santa Barbara Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; general admission is $17 for adults, $13 for seniors aged 65+, $10 for children 2-12, and children under 2 are free. Parking is $7 weekdays, $10 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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