Three-month-old Boris quickly slurps down a bottle before prancing through his exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. San Diego Zoo keepers expect to wean the reindeer from his bottle on Christmas Day, one of the 365 days a year the Zoo is open. The little Reindeer was a surprise when he was born at the Zoo on Sept. 18 in an exclusively female Reindeer exhibit. (Scientists do not believe there was any miracle involved, though; Boris’ mother was just unexpectedly pregnant when she arrived at the Zoo in May.)
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“It has been so much fun watching Boris grow up here at the San Diego Zoo,” said Tammy Batson, a San Diego Zoo lead keeper (pictured holding the bottle for Boris. “When he was born he was all legs, but now he’s even getting antlers!”
The Zoo is currently celebrating Jungle Bells, its holiday event. Jungle Bells features animal-themed light displays, a handbell choir, and special treats for animals – and guests. There are new light shows and live shows including the Jumpin’ Jammin’ Elves, who use a trampoline to launch themselves into the air where they twist and flip to holiday tunes. During the celebration, which runs through Jan. 2, 2011, grounds will stay open until 8 p.m., three hours past the usual closing time, except on Dec. 24.
San Diego Zoo guests who want to watch Boris being weaned can stop by the Zoo’s Polar Rim area, next door to the polar bears, on Christmas Day. Boris weighed about 8 pounds when he was born. Unfortunately, he was too weak to stand and nurse and he grew cold. Boris was taken off exhibit when it became apparent he wasn’t going to nurse. When he was put back after a few days, his mother was not attentive to him, so the animal care staff continued feeding him with a bottle. Boris now weighs about 75 pounds. He eats hay and an alfalfa-based pellet and grazes on the grasses, acacia and other plants in his exhibit. Boris lives with four female reindeer and is part of the herd. He loves to play in the pool in his exhibit. Both female and male reindeer grow antlers. Reindeer typically live 15 to 20 years.
The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as the Wild Animal Park), which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.