Animals in the Postal Service I: Rudolph was not Alone

As the merry day of Christmas fast approaches, many of us hope that Santa’s reindeers will help Santa Clause deliver all of his presents before sunrise. Rudolph will of course be at the front, helping the other reindeers see with his shiny red nose. The idea of reindeers being an integral part of the Christmas present delivery service is not of course pure fantasy, but was inspired by the real-life reindeers whose lives were dedicated to delivering letters and packages in Scandinavia, Finland, Russia, Canada and Alaska, USA.

Reindeer were not native to North America but were imported from Northern Europe and Russia by Sheldon Jackson an American missionary and political figure who wanted to help the Inuit people of Alaska.The first Alaskan Reindeer post delivery routes were established in 1890 by Sheldon Jackson and William Kjellmann and each covered 80 kilometers daily. The reindeer carried up to 140 kg of mail.

Eventually, the postal reindeer teams were substituted by other means of transportation but still remain a huge source of food and leather for the native Inuit populations of Alaska.





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