Santa feeds the reindeer while families watch from the nearby path. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Santa feeds the reindeer while families watch from the nearby path. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

31st annual Reindeer Festival returns to Cougar Mountain Zoo

Cougar Mountain Zoo will run the 2018 Reindeer Festival every day until Dec. 23.

Returning for its 31st year, Cougar Mountain Zoo’s annual Reindeer Festival is bringing families out for holiday themed events all month long.

Running from Dec. 1 to Dec. 23, the Reindeer Festival lets attendees meet and take pictures with Santa Claus and the Cougar Mountain Zoo’s stable of reindeer. They also host story time for children, letter writing and other holiday themed events around the zoo.

Sasha Hendricks, education curator at the zoo, explained that for the Christmas-themed event the zoo creates festive anecdotes and activities around each of the animals and incorporates each exhibit into the overall Christmas theme.

This year, the zoo introduced two new alpaca to the facility just days before the festival began. On the last few weekends leading up to the 25th, Cougar Mountain Zoo will also bring carolers to perform live.

As a nonprofit organization, the Cougar Mountain Zoo uses events such as the Reindeer Festival as fundraisers to support operations and the animals themselves during the rest of the year, Hendricks explained. On average, the zoo sees about 10,000 attendees in the festival’s 23-day run.

During the Reindeer Festival, the zoo is open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or dusk. General admission tickets are a minimum donation of $15.50, children tickets at $12.50, and children younger than two get free admission.

For more on the Reindeer Festival, visit cougarmountainzoo.org.

Brothers Noah and Alex Kipper feed apples to the Alpaca. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Brothers Noah and Alex Kipper feed apples to the Alpaca. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Raelynn Thukaram meets Santa at the Cougar Mountain Zoo Reindeer Festival. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Raelynn Thukaram meets Santa at the Cougar Mountain Zoo Reindeer Festival. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

One of the Reindeer stands behind the rest and looks at the crowd of Zoo attendees. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

One of the Reindeer stands behind the rest and looks at the crowd of Zoo attendees. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

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