Friday, 3 July 2009

Introducing Comet, Donna and Blitzen

Three young reindeer arrived earlier in the year and are now on view to the public for the first time. The two females, Donna and Comet, and their male companion, Blitzen, are now around a year old. When the animals first came to Dartmoor they were very nervous of people. They were kept in an off show enclosure to allow keepers time to build a trusting relationship with them. After many long patient hours, the reindeer began to hand feed and started allowing keepers to attach lead ropes to their head collars. Donna had always been the most comfortable around humans and soon she was being taken for walks in an empty field. Blitzen, and then Comet, later joined her on these excursions and keepers gradually began introducing the animals to the sights, smells and sounds of the zoo environment.

The reindeer have become much more confident around humans and are no longer spooked by most new experiences. Now that they have settled in, the keepers wanted to place them on public view, although the new reindeer complex is not yet finished. The tapir enclosure is home to Roger and Chana. It is composed of two stables, two hardstanding areas and one large paddock. As one of these stables and hardstanding areas is not currently in use, it was decided that Donna, Comet and Blitzen should temporarily move in . The tapir are shut into their hardstanding area for a few hours during the day so that the reindeer can use the paddock for a little while. Until mid afternoon, Roger and Chana are always asleep in their house, so they are not missing out.

The reindeer are still taken for a walk around the zoo every day and they continue to improve. They are in training for Christmas when we hope they will be firm favourites with our visitors. So, if you visit Dartmoor Zoo you will be able to see the trio and if you're lucky enough you may even meet one close up on a walk!

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