At Cheekwood's Reindeer Village visitors are learning about the animals that pull Santa's sleigh

Reindeers really do go 'click, click, click'
Posted at 7:31 AM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 08:34:09-05

BELLE MEADE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Visitors to Cheekwood's Reindeer Village are learning all about the animals that pull Santa's sleigh, like the fact that reindeer really do go “click, click, click" (it's the small tendons in their feet moving over bones.)

It's part of Holiday Lights.

"I mean, who gets the opportunity to talk about reindeer during Christmas time!" Hall Whitaker said.

Cheekwood's husbandry supervisor Hall Whitaker leads reindeer talks during the holiday festival.

"You're a lucky reindeer if you get to live at the North Pole with Santa or on a farm," he said. "They will live longer than a wild animal will."

Jolly and Dolly are the reindeer from East Tennessee that are living on Cheekwood's property through January 5.

Whitaker said reindeer prefer the tundra, but adapt to the milder temperatures in Middle Tennessee.

"Their coats change a little bit," he said.

At the daily reindeer talks called "Deer Diaries" reindeer keepers talk about what the animals eat, their behavior and relationships. They also explain how they are similar and different to white-tailed deer.

"Like other [female] deer, they're not a mom forever. Mom becomes a little more of a 'bad cop' so to speak. Basically to teach the baby to share," Whitaker said. "[With reindeer] you're not going to be able to tell who is a boy and who is a girl because girls grow antlers too."

People can visit with the reindeer during the daytime hours or attend a Deer Diaries discussion at 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.