Happy Holidays from Alaska Fish and Game

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Santa's Reindeer (R.t. saintnicolas magicalus)

The Story of Rudolph

Research into the history of Santa's reindeer brings to light a peculiar tale. The smallest of Santa's reindeer, Rudolph, was born with a genetic abnormality: a bright, red, glowing nose. Poor Rudolph! His nose was frequently the object of cruel remarks and such pranks as only reindeer calves can play. Rudolph ruefully assumed the mantle of the outcast.

But a unique destiny was prepared for this gentle beast. Rudolph's genetic abnormality would become his greatest asset. One fateful Christmas Eve, Santa and his reindeer gathered on the ice sheet. The fog was thick as soup, and snowflakes crowded the air, getting in Santa's eyes. What could penetrate the fog and snow and guide Santa's sleigh, burdened with gifts, on its joyful course? The answer was obvious. Rudolph guided Santa and his sleigh through the treacherous night by the light of his nose. Had it not been for Rudolph, Santa's sleigh would have been grounded. Christmas stockings would have remained devoid and limp, and Christmas day would have been marked with cries of disappointment. From that fateful eve forward, Rudolph has been revered and honored by his fellows through stories, legends and songs.

Possibilities for Further Research

Little more is known of Santa's reindeer. They remain well-loved, and more often heard than seen. Every Christmas Eve, sharp-eared children may detect the faint sound of harness bells and hoofbeats on rooftops. Department researchers encourage you to record your observations and document sightings so that we can learn more about this unusual subspecies.