Reindeer bring holiday cheer to SF Zoo

Children and adults can see three reindeer at the San Francisco Zoo until New Year’s Day, zoo officials said Saturday.

The reindeer named Belle, Holly and Peppermint will be at the zoo’s Playfield Lawn near Elinor Friend Playground to bring holiday cheer and allow people to learn more about them.

Reindeer are domesticated caribou, according to zoo officials. But reindeer are a “vulnerable” species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, because the population has declined 40 percent in the last 20 to 30 years.

Reindeer are adapted to life in cold climates because they have two thick layers of fur and special bones in their nose, which warms the air they breathe before it enters their lungs.

They also have special hooves that change in the spring and winter to allow them to walk on spongy tundra and ice.

Reindeer are used by numerous circumpolar cultures for food, milk, antlers and hide, zoo officials said.