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Santa's Big Helpers

November 22, 1998|BOOTH MOORE

Four reindeer land at the L.A. Zoo this week, on holiday from their permanent residence at Operation Santa Claus in Redmond, Ore. We asked Cindy Gillaspie, manager of the reindeer farm, to tell us about her furry friends.

Like many Angelenos, reindeer have to audition.

Teams are chosen, each with a leader named Rudolph. But Gillaspie says that's only a stage name. Real names are kept secret so all kids can see a Rudolph. Touring teams consist of four adults and a spare, an understudy of sorts, "in case someone loses an antler," she said.

Dietary habits are not dissimilar from those of many L.A. females (a certain foxy TV lawyer comes to mind). "It looks like what a rabbit eats, a milled-seed formula."

Their natural behavior? Anything but friendly. "They run away from humans." When asked if she had any concerns about sending them to La La Land, Gillaspie said, "I'd be more concerned if I was sending a relative or a child." Ho-ho-ho!


The reindeer will be at the Los Angeles Zoo through Jan. 4.

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