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Atlantic Veterinary College clears reindeer to fly

Dr. John VanLeeuwen, interim dean, Atlantic Veterinary College, says nine reindeer have recently been given a clean bill of health by veterinarians and veterinary technicians at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
| Atlantic Veterinary College
Rachel Cutcliffe
(Adobe Stock Photo 17492718)
(Adobe Stock Photo 17492718)

The Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) is pleased to report that they have cleared nine reindeer for their flight beginning on December 24. 

“Over the weekend, we had the pleasure of performing large animal physical examinations on nine reindeer,” explains Dr. John VanLeeuwen, interim dean, AVC. “Although we normally don’t share patient information with the public, the owner of the reindeer felt it was in the public’s best interest to know their status for flight.”

The reindeer were examined by both AVC’s large animal service and the AVC Wildlife Service on Saturday, December 17 where veterinarians and veterinary technicians performed an annual examination. Their hearts, lungs, and muscles were all in great working order – necessary for their long flight path.

The only obscure discovery was that one reindeer had a red, shiny nose that can only be described as a lightbulb. Therefore, the AVC veterinary staff called in Dr. Brian Wagner, professor specializing in bioluminescence, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, UPEI, and the biomedical engineering staff to double-check that the nose was functioning properly.

Once the exam was completed, the AVC team spent time properly grooming them, cleaning their antlers, and even spent time shining the one reindeer’s red nose.

“The most essential component for us was to make sure their hooves were clean and clear of any debris,” explains Dr. VanLeeuwen. “Reindeer are covered in hair from their nose to the bottom of their feet. This gives them a good grip when they walk on frozen ground, ice, mud, snow, or, in this case, roofs.”

Although, they will be well fed prior to flight, Dr. VanLeeuwen encourages anyone wanting to help boost the reindeer’s nutrition throughout the night to leave them carrots and maybe the occasional apple.

“Too many apples can be a problem for their stomachs," says Dr. VanLeeuwen.

Media Contact

Rachel Cutcliffe
External Engagement Officer
Atlantic Veterinary College

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