Reindeer Festival welcomes new fliers

December 3, 2013

By David Hayes

Santa is celebrating this holiday season with new members on his flying travel team and will debut them at the 25th annual Reindeer Festival at the Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Joining the other 10 reindeer at the zoo are Rowley, named after sponsor Rowley Properties, and Issy, named after the town he was born in. Zoo curator, and head elf, Robyn Barfoot said Rowley was born May 9 and Issy came along not far behind, on July 9; both have the same dad.

“Our visitors have a unique opportunity to peer into the joyous world of Santa Claus and learn about his amazing animal friends,” Barfoot said. “It makes for an unforgettable holiday experience.”

If you go

25th annual Reindeer Festival
Cougar Mountain Zoo
10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily through Dec. 23
19525 S.E. 54th St.

In fact, Rowley couldn’t wait to join the zoo’s community outreach program. He made an appearance, along with veteran reindeer Dasher and Dancer, in Renton during the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony Dec. 23.

Back at Cougar Mountain Zoo, visitors will be able to get up close to all 12 of Santa’s reindeer throughout December. The zoo is open through Dec. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Barfoot said if visitors time their tour just right, they can catch Santa on the premises from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m.

She added that the young, and young at heart, are invited to hand deliver their wish list directly to Santa or draw it up on site and drop it off in Santa’s mailbox.

“Every night, he looks in on his mailbox for letters,” Barfoot said.

For a special treat, Barfoot said to be sure not to miss the Big Cat Holiday Celebration at 1 p.m. Dec. 22-23, where all the tigers and cougars get their Christmas presents to open and demolish.

“We get thousands and thousands of visitors during the Reindeer Festival,” Barfoot said. “We’ve got many people who make this their annual holiday tradition. We see a lot of people get all dressed up, ready to talk to Santa.”

While visiting Santa, Barfoot said people should be sure not to miss the zoo’s other animals, dressed up in their holiday best.

All proceeds from the event go toward supporting the reindeer, their animal friends and the zoo’s educational programs.

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