Reindeer Baby Boris Comes Home

Posted at 10:08 am October 29, 2010 by Kim Weibel

Boris and Kim

See Kim’s previous post, Reindeer Baby Boris.

Back home at the San Diego Zoo’s reindeer exhibit in Polar Bear Plunge, keepers set up a “howdy pen” where Boris could continue to gain coordination and strength. We use howdy pens to create a safe and secure place for our young animals to go to if needed. We also developed a daily routine for Boris. In the morning, Boris left his howdy pen and followed us into the exhibit. The reindeer exhibit at the Zoo is lushly planted, steep, and large—great housing for the adult reindeer to navigate but tough for little Boris. We noticed in the late afternoons, when things were quiet, the curious adult reindeer (mother included) made their way down the hill and into Boris’ pen to investigate, sniffing him and helping themselves to his food and water. These were the first signs that the herd was accepting Boris.

The reindeer exhibit is next to our polar bear management yard (dubbed Polar Bear Park). The two exhibits are separated by a fence that the animals can easily see through. The curious polar bears have a bird’s-eye view of the reindeer herd. To them, Boris might appear to be a small chocolate mousse (moose)! On Boris’s first day out on exhibit, the bears lined up against the fence, straining to check out the new resident and huffing at him each time he ventured close to the common fence. We were proud to see that Boris’s natural instinct of fear and flight was on track, and he bolted away each time a bear barked at him. Despite his good instincts, we felt it was important to provide extra protection for him and a little less temptation for the bears. A temporary cloth barrier was put up on the lower half of the fence between the two exhibits to minimize contact. Although they can still smell each other, activity between the two species has mellowed.

After a few days of exploration, Boris began to enjoy his visits to the large reindeer exhibit. Each day as we cleaned, Boris played joyfully, bouncing and spinning around the pines and tearing through mud puddles. Boris became more coordinated and gained confidence. Exhausted after his romps, he followed us back to his howdy pen for a well-deserved rest.

Kim Weibel is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Check back soon for Kim’s next post about Boris.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are currently closed. Pinging is not allowed.

22 Responses to “Reindeer Baby Boris Comes Home”

  1. sue Martz says:

    Baby Boris is sooooo cute. Thanks for the update. Can we have more pictures or video please?

  2. Dianna from Ohio says:

    I’m so glad he’s doing better… he is a cutie… Was there a reason why he was weak and needed nannykeeper support? He needs a little female friend and you all could name her Natasha… 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    Will his mother now care for him or does she even remember him?

  4. Diane says:

    What a great story about the little one! He sure is a cutie and will surely be enjoyed by all the visitors to the zoo! Keep up the good work!

  5. Diane in Victoria says:

    Is his mother starting to tend to him?

  6. nancy from michigan says:

    very cute as all baby animals are! we all tend to fall in love with any kind of baby (except snakes, gators, and bugs! lol ) other species are always curious about new babies too. some of them may even be thinking they would make a good snack! lucky little guy that boris is in a protected area right! thanks for the up-date!

  7. Elaine says:

    Will little Boris be returning to his mother? Or is it too late for that?

  8. Debi says:

    He is such an adorable baby! He will grow to be a beauty! Welcome to the world of reindeer, Boris! Let all the herd tell you about Rudolph and Santa and dream of flying with jingle bells on you! xo

  9. Margaret says:

    Thanks for the update, Kim. I am glad to hear that Boris is getting acclimated well, and that he is being accepted by the herd.

  10. kimmi says:

    Will he stay that beautiful black? What a great little guy. Will he stay here at SDZ or will you move him to a different zoo when he get bigger? Have fun with him.

  11. sue Martz says:

    I’d love to come out there to volunteer to feed Baby Boris, what a face!! He’s so cute. More pictures please.

  12. Susan(UK) says:

    What a little darling. I am so glad he is doing well. Hopefully he will be accepted by the herd. Yes, more pics please.

  13. kim weibel says:

    Hello everyone,

    Boris continues to do well on exhibit and is growing quickly. 🙂

    2) Dianne,

    Boris weighed ~ 8.5 lbs. (3.8 kg) when he was born. Other reindeer calves we’ve raised have been anywhere from 10 -12 lbs. (4.6 -5.4 kilos) at birth. Comparitively, he was a little small, and was not able to stand right away d/t weak legs. Because he couldn’t stand, he was not able to nurse, and needed medical attention and nursery care in order to thrive.

    3, 5 & 7) Kate, Diane, and Elaine,

    Boris is living on exhibit with his mother and the rest of the reindeer herd. He is doing well with them, but his mother has not shown any interest in caring for him. Keepers provide bottles every day. He is gaining weight, growing stronger daily, and has become an accepted member of the reindeer herd.

    10). Kimme,

    Although reindeer calves can be black, brown, or sometimes even white, the adult reindeer’s coat is usually brown. They may display a pale breast and belly in summer, and their coat sometimes turns whitish during winter months. For now, Boris will live with the reindeer herd on exhibit here at the Zoo.

  14. Lisa in Colorado says:

    It’s so nice to hear how you take such good care of the animals. If you have one to share, A video of the little one would be fun.

  15. JoGGer says:

    Hey Nancy baby gators are cute especially when sitting on their mums head as if to say ‘go on I dare you’ 😀

  16. JoGGer says:

    Would love to see boris investigating the bears……

  17. Vonna - North Carolina says:

    It’s so great to hear Boris is doing well, playing and being accepted by the herd. Good job by all his keepers!

    Is it possible that his mom doesn’t care for him because in the wild he wouldn’t have survived and she would have just had to move on? Just a thought.

    Like the others said…it would be great to see a video of Boris playing or interacting with the herd.

  18. Michelle from Buffalo, NY says:

    How long will Boris need to be bottle fed? What do your reindeer eat?

  19. Jodie says:

    There is something really special about Boris, besides being illegally adorable. Considering his surprise arrival, miraclulous survival and beating many odds to survive, I think he is destined to be a star.

  20. Mike says:

    Interesting! I hope that Boris grows up to be a big and strong Reindeer. I also hope that everyone has a great weekend.

  21. Suzanne says:

    Great story! Boris is one lucky reindeer to be born in such a nurturing environment. And..he is absolutely adorable!

  22. kim weibel says:

    Hello Everyone,

    You will be glad to know that Boris is doing well. He is getting bigger each day and looks great.

    17) Vonna,

    It is difficult to know why mother animals don’t always care for their young. Luckily, the herd is treating Boris well so far, and he has become an accepted member of our reindeer herd.

    18) Michelle,

    Boris will be weaned on December 25, Christmas day. (He’s got a lot of work to do Christmas Eve, right?) 😉 Besides their mother’s rich milk, young reindeer eat a variety of grasses, moss, and even mushrooms on the wild tundra. The reindeer at the Zoo get a healthy portion of pellet, browse and hay every day.