A reindeer by any other name

Heather Bryant / Sun Star Reporter
April 12, 2011

Calf #27 was found in the early morning on April 5. Within a few hours, the bull calf was on its feet and moving around. The Reindeer Research Program is accepting suggestions for potential names on their website. April 8, 2011. Heather Bryant/Sun Star.

The newest addition to the Reindeer Research Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks was welcomed to the world by a fresh blanket of snow. Calf #27 was found the morning of April 5 by George Aguiar, a research professional with the program.

“For a calf, within a couple hours you’ll see them moving,” Aguiar said. “They do a lot of resting and the mom just hovers around. Within a couple of days they’re too fast to catch.”

Because the calf is part of a research program, data collection plays a big role in its life. When the calf is first born, it has to be weighed and tagged. Even though the fresh snow on the ground provides a more sterile environment for a newborn calf, the umbilical chord still has to be disinfected.

“With the weighing and tagging, we want to get in there quick and do what we have to do and get out and cause minimal stress,” Aguiar said. “In the first 12 to 24 hours, they’re still wobbly and get around, but we can still catch them with relatively little problem.”

It’s not known yet whether this calf is destined for meat research (where they evaluate meat quality by feeding the animal different diets) or breeding. However, one question on the minds of many is what #27’s name is going to be. The program’s website allows people to submit potential names for the newborn. So far 34 submissions have come in from as far away as Pakistan. Suggestions include Fireball, Rocko, Dr. No, Flynn Ryder, Dexter, Linus, Reindrop, Charizard, Yukon Jack and Dangerous Beans.

The Reindeer Research Program has been at UAF since 1981.  The program conducts research in herd management, nutrition, meat quality and other topics, according to the program’s website.

You can find updates and make your own name suggestion at reindeer.salrm.uaf.edu.

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