Reindeer ready for annual starring role

November 29 2017
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YOU don’t have to wait for Christmas or visit Lapland to see reindeer. Four of them live year round in the Mendip Hills near Wells.

They are owned by Wookey Hole Caves and have seasonal work as part of the attraction’s Winter Wonderland feature. But you can see them at any time from a public footpath leading past their enclosure.

“They’re part of the family and part of the workforce,” said Caves director Daniel Medley. “They’ve got a great job. They work 16 days a year, they love meeting the public and they don’t have to commute.”

In previous years the reindeer have been put on show near the entrance to the caves complex. But now visitors are invited to walk up and meet them in a paddock next to their regular field.

The animals – three females and a neutered male – were all bred in captivity and are very calm around people.

“They’re an absolute pleasure to look after,” said Daniel’s wife, Laura.

“One unfortunately lost her mother when she was only a day old and she came to live with us in our house... She used to sit on the sofa and watch TV and it was only when she started to turn the gas cooker on that we decided she had better go back outside.”

The Caves team launched its Christmas-themed features eight years ago. This year’s publicity release says: “Visitors will meet Santa and his real reindeer for an unforgettable Christmas experience.”

But – unlike Rudolph and friends, Santa’s most celebrated reindeer team – the Wookey Hole animals have no names. Now, at the suggestion of Wells Voice, the Caves team is to launch a ‘name the reindeer’ competition for children visiting them this festive season.

• Wookey Hole Caves’ Winter Wonderland feature this Christmas, which has seen more than 100,000 Christmas lights installed in the caves, and gives visitors the chance to watch a Christmas-themed Circus Show as well as meet Santa and the reindeer, opened in November and runs until January 7.

Paul Cannon