Reindeer find new home in Norfolk

Victoria NichollsAnimal park staff who could not bear to say goodbye to the reindeer they cared for have clubbed together to buy them.Victoria Nicholls

Animal park staff who could not bear to say goodbye to the reindeer they cared for have clubbed together to buy them.

The young women had become so attached to the beasts after caring for them since birth at Pettitts Animal Adventure Park at Reedham that they decided to launch a business to enable them to earn their own keep.

Now they have found themselves in the middle of a hectic festive schedule as they juggle working at the park with taking the reindeer for appearances at Christmas fairs and grottos across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Donna Rowland, 27, from Sutton, near Stalham, said: "Because we worked with them for so long we couldn't bear to part with them, so we decided to buy them off Pettitts."

She said the mild temperaments of the reindeer meant their line of work was ideal. "They're really friendly: they're like pets," she added.

Miss Rowland, with colleagues Amber Risby, 30, from Reedham, and Tracey Murrant, 27, from Norwich, launched the business with a debut appearance at The Mall Norwich in November and have been busy through this month. Brother and sister Comet and Blitzen have already taken to their new starring role and even have a regular slot on Wednesdays at late-night shopping in Great Yarmouth until Christmas.

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"They're a real crowd-pleaser," said Miss Rowland. "People can stroke them and feed them, and we give children magic dust that they can sprinkle over the reindeer and make a wish. A lot of children have never seen reindeer and they just don't believe it."

The co-owners take it in turns to take Comet and Blitzen to festive events and have the support of their employers, who were pleased to see the pair go to such a good home.

Miss Rowland said: "It's really rewarding. Our friends and family think it's fantastic but a bit bizarre as well. The reason we do it is so they can earn their keep for the rest of the year."

Once their festive duties are over, the pair will be turned out to graze on fields at Strumpshaw Hall.

Comet and Blitzen can next be seen in a street parade at Brundall Christmas Festival between 10am and 4pm this Saturday.