Thursday, October 2, 2014

Reindeer calves get named, if somewhat fancifully

A decidedly whimsical nature applies to names selected for reindeer calves at the University of Alaska Fairbanks this fall.
Reindeer calves at UAF now have full-blown monikers instead of just numbers.

As the calves turned five months old, they were allotted names, including fun ones such as Buttercup, Bubbles and Blossom. Reindeer Research Program staff wait until the calves are weaned from their mothers to begin the naming process. All summer they are referred to by the numbers on their ear tags.

School children from around the country submit suggestions on the RRP website, some from far-flung locations like Wilmington, Delaware; Brattleboro, Vermont; and Cullawhee, North Carolina.

This year some of the names were chosen by participants in the first-ever Reindeer Youth Development Camp, held in August. Students from Savoonga, Nome, Stebbins and Anchorage spent several days with RRP staff learning about animal husbandry and leadership. For their extra efforts, they got to name half the herd.

Male names are Thunder, Lance, Sven, Coby, Kevin and Rodger. Females, besides those listed above, are Tucker, Nina, Fuzzball, Holly, Tabitha, Bella and Rosemary.

Rejected, as customary, were most Christmas-related nominations, including Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Mrs. Claus. Surprisingly, Holly made the cut. The staff try to disassociate Santa and his mythical flying creatures from their farm animals raised for meat research.

School children are welcome to enter names starting in April each spring. The program received 32 male names and 30 female names at the RRP website this year.

RRP conducts research in meat science, range management, nutrition, reproductive health, disease prevention and radio telemetry. The program has been active at UAF since 1981.

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