A Russian zoo is renting out reindeer, foxes and huskies to local people to enhance their Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Royev Ruchei in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk is one of the biggest zoos in Russia, and its new Animals at Home service means “some zoo residents can be brought along for photo opportunities or children’s parties, anywhere in the city,” local Channel 7 TV reports.
The zoo says the reindeer are in particularly high demand, and are most often loaned out to accompany Grandfather Frost – Russia’s answer to Santa – on his visits to children. Krasnoyarsk freezes hard at this time of year, so a snowy background is pretty much guaranteed.
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All the animals are specially prepared for their outings, and there is no risk to the public, the zoo insists.
“An experienced zookeeper familiar with the animals in question, and who knows how to handle them, always comes along. The keepers also know how to manage the audience, too,” spokeswoman Yekaterina Mikhailova told Channel 7.
Only reindeer are available for home visits – assuming the hosts have the room – as they are accustomed to being around people.
Not all of the reindeer have antlers at the moment, so the handlers always make sure to pick reindeer that do when it comes to photo shoots.
“And if small children are involved, we go for the calmest deer,” Ms Mikhailova assured viewers.
Reporting by Jen Monaghan and Martin Morgan
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