Reindeer games | Festival in 23rd year at Cougar Mountain Zoo

Karen Grande, of Sammamish, views the reindeer at the Cougar Mountain Zoo. - Chad Coleman/Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter
Karen Grande, of Sammamish, views the reindeer at the Cougar Mountain Zoo.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter

They have Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and the newest addition, 5-month-old Blitzen.

Then there’s the most famous reindeer of them all, Rudolph.

And be sure not to forget the backup, Olive.

For the 23rd straight year, Cougar Mountain Zoo is hosting Santa and his entire team of flyers the entire month for its annual Reindeer Festival, which runs Dec. 1-23 and 26-30.

“It is a very unique fun, family event, said Robyn Barfoot, zoo curator. “People get to know that reindeer are real, they do exist and they’re really cute.”

For Steve and Jessica Talacki of Woodinville, the experience provided a perfect afternoon escape with their 4-year-old son, Max.

“We were just looking online for things to do for kids for Christmas and saw this,” said Steve, admitting he didn’t know about the zoo hidden in Issaquah’s foothills. “It’s very unique.”

For Sammamish resident Karen Grande and her 3-year-old granddaughter Grace, the event has become a bit of a tradition. They made their first trip to the Cougar Mountain Zoo last December.

“We talked about it all year,” Karen said, smiling.

Grace, who just finished feeding apple pieces to the reindeer, was quick to name her favorite antlered friend.

“Rudolph, because of his nose,” she said.

She even had the answer for why his nose wasn’t lit up in the daylight.

“Because it needs to save energy for when it’s dark,” she said.

The Reindeer Festival is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily through Dec. 23. Pictures are available with Santa in his house through that time frame. He is gone for his trip around the world Dec. 24 and returns to the North Pole on Dec. 25.

Santa is gone Dec. 26-30, but the zoo hosts an additional viewing of his reindeer from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Dec. 26-30.

Admission prices are $12.50 for adults, $11.50 for seniors, $10.50 for children 2-12, while children under 2 are free. Discount tickets are available for $1 off at PCC Natural Markets.

Admission also includes access to all of the zoo’s exhibits, including tigers, cougars, lemurs, wallabies and more.

An estimated 10,000 people are expected to visit the Cougar Mountain Zoo in December.




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