Earlier this season photographer Chona Kasinger had some quality time with some real live Reindeer at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. Chona was on assignment with Vera, Virgin Atlantic's in-flight magazine for a story that celebrates Christmas around the world. A fun fact: Leavenworth, WA sits at the same latitude on earth as the parts of Mongolia that boast the healthiest, largest reindeer in the world. Chona got a tour of the grounds and met the team of reindeer owned and managed by Kari & Hans Andersen. Three generations of family work on the farm each day, along with an incredibly dedicated staff. Since opening to the public in December of 2016, nearly half a million visitors from all over the world have marveled at the magic of reindeer in Leavenworth. One of the last remaining places on earth that offers guests a chance to go inside the reindeer enclosure and interact with the entire herd, this is truly a bucket-list experience that shouldn’t be missed.
The happy herd of reindeer, the domesticated version of Caribou, enchant and delight both young and old. Caribou are a protected species in the lower 48. The last remaining wild herd was relocated from Washington State in 2019.
Reindeer have been domesticated for centuries and have depended on humans for their care, while doing some pretty incredible work – carrying weapons through snowy mountain passes during WW2, performing mail routes in Alaska, providing clothing and sustenance to Native Sami in Northern Norway, Sweden Finland and of course making the yearly journey around the globe – helping Santa and carrying his impossible load of gifts for girls and boys all over the world. And another fun fact, reindeer are considered one of the most highly-accessorized creatures on our planet.