Handler will pose reindeer for photos following holiday tree celebration.
By Alison Graef
She might not have a red nose, nor is she guiding Santa’s sleigh this season.
But a real live reindeer will visit this college this week to pose for pictures and help celebrate the holiday season.
Student life is bringing a reindeer to campus for a photo op 1-3 p.m. Thursday in the mall. The event will follow the holiday tree celebration 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday in the atrium of Loftin Student Center.
“I’ve been here on this campus for 33 years and we’ve never had a reindeer here,” said Carrie Hernandez, senior student success specialist.
Jingles, the 2-year-old female reindeer, originally came from a reindeer ranch in Colorado, but now lives in Atascosa County with Roberto Trejo, owner of local educational business Zoomagination, and his menagerie of feathered, furry, scaled and hairy friends. Trejo is a former animal trainer from SeaWorld. He started his business nine years ago to promote wildlife and environmental education and animal outreach.
Trejo said while reindeer traditionally live in colder climates such as Alaska and northern Russia, they acclimate very readily to warm climates by shedding their heavy coats. He said Jingles and his other three reindeer are currently starting to grow their winter coats.
“During the summer she has a thin, chocolaty coat, almost suede-like, that helps her stay cool,” Trejo said.
Trejo said Jingles is comfortable around crowds of people, and people are welcome to take pictures of her. However, for her comfort and safety at large events, he said he does not allow people to pet or pose with her.
In case of bad weather, Trejo said Jingles can be moved indoors. Hernandez said she will make a space for her in Loftin if necessary.
The reindeer is funded by the student activity fee and costs $700 for two hours.
The holiday tree celebration will include cake, fruit punch and coffee, and will be held in the atrium near the 18-foot-tall Christmas tree. There will be photo opportunities with people dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a gingerbread man, a Christmas tree and two elves.
The ASL Glee Club and Gleek Squad will perform selected Christmas songs 11-11:30 a.m. from their upcoming ASL Glee Club Christmas performance 6-10 p.m. Dec. 3 in McAllister.
Hernandez said she hopes the reindeer will be a fun, safe alternative to student life’s former Snow Day, which was discontinued because people were getting hurt during snowball fights with the icy “snow” generated by snow machines.
Hernandez said she hopes the reindeer is well received.
“Like puppy days, I hope a reindeer brings a smile to people’s faces,” Hernandez said.