Sleigh, Queen: Rudolph Might Be Female
Before Santa cracks his whip to get his 9-reindeer sleigh into high gear, he may want to consider this: Rudolph and many of his friends were likely females, says a Texas A&M University veterinary professor.
Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, a deer expert and director of the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center, says reindeer are the only type of deer in which both the males and females grow antlers.
“So according to the legend, it’s very possible that Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was a female,” she said. “For that matter, Prancer, Dancer and all of the rest of the reindeer could have been females.”
Blue-McLendon was part of the Texas A&M team that cloned Dewey, the world’s first cloned deer, in 2003. She notes that there are more than 30 different types of deer, and what are commonly called caribou in North America are called reindeer in Europe and Scandinavia.
“Reindeer are also are the original ‘dress-in-layers’ animal because they have two coats — a coat of fur and a woolly type of undercoat of hairs to keep them warm,” said Blue-McLendon, who has studied deer and other exotic animals for 30 years. “In the early days of Alaska’s history, some mail routes were made with sleds pulled by reindeer, so it’s likely they even delivered some Christmas cards, too.”
- Megan Palsa, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, 979-862-4216, MPalsa@cvm.tamu.edu.
- Keith Randall, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications 979-845-4644, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Alice Blue-McLendon, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, 979-845-6881, email@example.com.