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Reindeer roundup: Researchers prove Rudolph's nose is red; Finnish reindeer becomes celebrity

Radio SwedenEye on the Arctic

Researchers at Lund University in southern Sweden have proved that Rudolf’s nose actually IS red.

They have filmed the nose with a infrared camera that indicates heat. Apparently the warm blood that is pumped to the reindeers muzzle, to help it look for food in the frozen ground, can give it a kind of red glow.

According to a press release from Lund University, some researchers have now started a “nose group” or the Mammalian Rhinarium Group to try to find out more. The group will be studying how mammals is getting information from the front, soft and wet part of the nose, which is also called rhinarium.

TV-loving domestic reindeer becomes celebrity in Arctic Finland

Aatu, a domesticated reindeer in Finland's Arctic city of Rovaniemi, enjoys watching television and has become a local tourist attraction.

Aatu was only a small calf when his mother abandoned him. He was found in the woods of Savukoski, near the municipality of Sodankylä in Finland’s Arctic Lapland province.

An orphan, he never learned how to be a regular reindeer, his owner says. He was bottle-fed, brought up partly in a house and learned to identify with humans rather than animals — so much so that he likes watching TV: His favourite show is the British police constable series Heartbeat.

Aatu, who lives part-time on a reindeer farm and in the yard of owner Pia Tuukkanen’s house, seems to want to be indoors with humans. He knows how to walk carefully on the floors of the house where his owner lives, and he has even been housebroken -- for the most part.

Early on, local reindeer herders said that a tame reindeer would be no good at work. But that turned out not to be the case: Aatu, now 6, is an active tourist guide, pulling sleighs full of visitors. According to his owner, he is a social creature, and like a child, he is honest, curious and trusts people.

There are some 200,000 semi-domesticated reindeer in northern Finland, which have traditionally been herded by the indigenous Sámi people. An adult male can weigh up to 350 pounds.

Aatu's owner is a reporter for Yle Lapland.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.