It’s only the end of May, but Santa Claus already has two new reindeer in his bullpen should he need them on December 24. And they’re twins!
According to BBC News, Britain’s only free-roaming herd of reindeer has seen the birth of its first live twins.
The pair, born two weeks ago, belong to the Cairngorms Reindeer Herd of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Prior to the current bundles of joy, twins born to the herd have either been stillborn or died soon after birth.
“Thirty years ago we had twins, one was stillborn and the other survived for 12 hours. Since then we have had two sets (2008 and 2015) but both were stillborn so you can imagine our shock when we found them both alive and well,” reindeer herder and center manager, Fiona Smith, told Scotsman.
The owners said live twins were “extremely rare,” but they remain hopeful, but realistic, about their chances of their survival. According to the owners, there’s only one other known case of live twins surviving, which was in Finland in 2010, although research indicates it was 2009.
The twins make their home with their extended family, which has been in the Cairngorms, near Aviemore, since 1952. Their mother, Lulu, is one of the older females, at a ripe 12-years-old. The pair is being nursed with the help of their human family, with bottled milk, as their doubly-blessed mom doesn’t have enough of her own for both of them.
After 66 years of reindeer herding in Scotland we have had a first. On the 8th May 2018 we had live twins born! 30 years ago we had twins, one was stillborn and the other survived for 12 hours. Since then we have had two sets (2008 and 2015) but both were stillborn so you can imagine our shock when we found them both alive and well. Their mother Lulu is one of our older females in the herd, at 12 years, and she is taking everything in her stride and not batting an eyelid at the two little bundles following her. She loves them both and lets them feed, however we are giving her a helping hand by offering them a top-up of bottled milk as we feel she hasn’t got enough to sustain two. They spent their first two weeks up in our mountain enclosure where they were born and we have been going out first thing in the morning and last thing at night every day since to make sure they were getting enough milk. They were being supported to suckle from Lulu in their first few days but now they are growing well and coming on leaps and bounds, and feeding themselves. We of course must remain realistic as this is extremely rare with only one other known case of twins being born in the world: in Finland in 2010. We will do our best by both them and Lulu, making sure she gets extra feed, browse and attention. Summer time is crucial for keeping an eye on reindeer with biting insects causing illnesses which the twins will be more susceptible to so their first six months are going to be a rocky road, however we feel they have rallied through their first two weeks so this amazing news can go public. #cairngormreindeer #cairngorms #scotland #scottishhighlands #scotspirit #lovescotland #visitscotland #calvingseason #twins #reindeer #calf #calves #scottishselection #highlandcollective #highlands @visitcairngorms @visitscotland @thecairngorms
“They are coming on leaps and bounds, and feeding themselves,” Smith said. “We will do our best by both them and Lulu, making sure she gets extra feed, browse and attention.”
She added, “Summertime is crucial for keeping an eye on reindeer with biting insects causing illnesses which the twins will be more susceptible to, so their first six months are going to be a rocky road. However, we feel they have rallied through their first two weeks so this amazing news can go public.”
Reported in KnutisWeekly, Finland’s reindeer twins were born in June of 2009 and are girls named Sigga and Ibba. Their owner, Juha Granström, confirmed that reindeer twins are quite rare and one reindeer out of a thousand gives birth to twins.
According to its website, the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd is Britain’s only free-ranging herd of reindeer found in the Cairngorm mountains in Scotland. They say they currently have around 150 reindeer in the herd, mostly ranging on the Cairngorm Mountains with the remainder on the Glenlivet Estate, the locations being some 30 miles apart.