Roosevelt Park Zoo reindeer

MINOT, N.D. - Reindeer are very popular animals among young kids this time of year.

Rose and Lilly are two resident reindeer at the Roosevelt Park Zoo, who sometimes get mistaken for one of Santa's.

"Is that Rudolph? I tell them that these are not Santa's reindeer, but they are just like them expect for they cannot fly,” says Ryan Pederson, the lead North Trail Zookeeper.

Although Lilly and Rose don't fly, they have to train like Santa's reindeer, just a little differently.

"We do our behavioral training so we can do medical procedures so it's less stressful for the animals and for us. We need to get weights on them every month. Every year they get hoof trims and vaccinations,” said Pederson.

The reindeer are not forced to train, but as you can see, they are usually excited when their keepers come around.

"They will stick their nose to a target, so they follow that around. Halter is a big one. If they just go into a halter for us then we can just clip their hooves give them vaccinations and let them go,” said Pederson.

Lilly and Rose have trained for three years, but it wasn't always this easy.

"We have to give them reinforcements somehow and they were pretty shy. We usually have to hand-feed them but they didn't want anything from us because they didn't want to take anything from our hands. So we had to try a scoop to try to give them food. We tried carrots, yams, everything and then we finally found the best reinforcements and it is leaf eater biscuits,” said Pederson.

Helping keep the Minot reindeer mentally sharp and well-trained just in case Old Saint Nick needs some extra help on Christmas Eve.

The reindeer, or caribou as they are also called, change their appearance each season of the year. During winter they have a beautiful white coat and large antlers.

For more information on the reindeer, the zoo will host a Keeper Chat at the Zoo on Saturday.