Dancer the reindeer nuzzles her new baby, a female, shortly after its birth on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 in Nikiski, Alaska. The Hansen family in Nikiski has had reindeer for five years and take them around the central Kenai Peninsula for appearances at Christmastime. Any money donated by those who get their pictures with the animals is given to support homeless children, Hara Hansen said. (Photo courtesy Megan Ward)

Dancer the reindeer nuzzles her new baby, a female, shortly after its birth on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 in Nikiski, Alaska. The Hansen family in Nikiski has had reindeer for five years and take them around the central Kenai Peninsula for appearances at Christmastime. Any money donated by those who get their pictures with the animals is given to support homeless children, Hara Hansen said. (Photo courtesy Megan Ward)

Nikiski family welcomes reindeer calf

One Nikiski farm just got a whole lot cuter.

The Hansen family welcomed a baby reindeer Tuesday when their pregnant female reindeer, Dancer, gave birth. The family has raised and trained everything from cattle and horses to goats and a pig over the years, said Jenna Hansen. They got involved with reindeer five years ago, said her mother, Hara Hansen.

Hara said she and her daughter Megan Ward did not want to disturb Dancer, who is relatively new to their home, so they filmed the birth on Ward’s phone through a pair of binoculars through their window.

Hara said the birth has gained attention on the Facebook page the family created for the reindeer, named Scene of the Crash. The Facebook live video of the birth had nearly 3,000 views by Wednesday afternoon.

“I was looking at the stats and it was like, ‘Holy cow!’” Hara said.

It all began with a trip to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, where Jenna saw reindeer and decided to raise one through the 4-H program. She spent time researching the animals and even took a trip to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which houses the Reindeer Research Program, Hara said.

Now a sophomore attending college in the Lower 48, Jenna said training reindeer was the next step after gaining experience with several other animals.

“You can’t get much more Alaskan than (reindeer),” she said. “And so I wanted to try something new.”

The family started out with Crash, a male reindeer that Jenna could not bring herself to sell at market after raising him. Instead, she has used funds from raising and selling a steer to support keeping the reindeer and bringing them to schools for educational purposes over the years, Hara said.

“Even though it was intensive, it is completely worth it,” Jenna said.

The next reindeer the family got was Comet, another male. He and Crash have been making the rounds on the central peninsula since then, appearing at holiday events to pose for pictures. People can take as many photos with the animals as they want, Jenna said, and any donations the family gets from them are given to support homeless children, usually through the Kenai Peninsula School District’s Students in Transition Program, she said.

“She’s done that for six years and even though she’s a sophomore at college, she still comes home at Christmastime and does the reindeer pictures,” Hara said.

The family members talked over the idea of expanding their number of animals, and Jenna said they came to the decision to sell Comet in order to obtain a pregnant female. Hara got Dancer from the Reindeer Farm in Palmer, and Comet will go to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage.

“They needed a trained reindeer that is used to being in the public for demonstrations and education,” Hara said. “And he’s absolutely perfect for that.”

To her knowledge, Hara said Crash, Dancer and the new baby are the only reindeer on the Kenai Peninsula at this point.

Still at college, Jenna said it’s hard knowing she has to wait another month to meet the newcomer.

“I was huddled over my phone with like three other people,” she said of watching the birth.

The family members are asking for help in naming the new female. Jenna won the Caring for the Kenai contest in 2012 with the idea that eventually grew into the family’s jewelry making business, Alaska Sea Glass. Ward has continued on with the business while Jenna is at college, Hara said.

Alaska Sea Glass is offering two glass necklaces with etched caribou, Hara said. One will be given away via random drawing and another will be awarded to the person who comes up with the best name for the baby reindeer.

For more information on how to enter the naming contest, visit the Alaska Sea Glass Facebook page.

As for the future of the reindeer, Jenna said she hopes people can keep enjoying them during the holiday season, and that it continues to generate donations for homeless youth.

“I want it to keep being a community project,” she said.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

Comet (right) and Crash (left), reindeer owned and raised by Jenna Hansen of Nikiski, posed for pictures with people who dropped by Trustworthy Hardware 2 on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2016 in Soldotna, Alaska.  (Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

Comet (right) and Crash (left), reindeer owned and raised by Jenna Hansen of Nikiski, posed for pictures with people who dropped by Trustworthy Hardware 2 on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2016 in Soldotna, Alaska.  (Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

More in News

Alaska Senate President Peter Micciche speaks to reporters after a Senate floor session on the opening day of the second special legislative session on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. Gov. Mike Dunleavy called the special session to address the budget. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Per diems add up for lawmakers

State lawmakers could make more than $85,000 in per diem payments and… Continue reading

Daniel Balserak and Luke Konson fish for salmon in Alaska. The pair has been traveling the country and catching every official state fish for the past 11 months. (Photo provided)
A gap year like no other

High school graduates defer college enrollment to fish in every state

Hikers look at the Harding Icefield in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park, just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Hiker rescued from Harding Icefield Trail

A hiker was airlifted off of the Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai… Continue reading

COVID-19 cases are rising and health officials say new variants are spurring the increase, even among the vaccinated. But health officials note the majority of hospitalizations and deaths are occurring in unvaccinated people. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire file)
COVID-19 surge continues

‘They’re getting sicker this time around’

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Weekend car accident leaves 1 dead

Alaska State Troopers reported another car accident fatality over the weekend, marking… Continue reading

Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion 
The Kenai River can be seen from the Funny River Campground on Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Funny River, Alaska.
State seeks funding for Funny River boat launch

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is working to secure funding for… Continue reading

.
COVID-19 cases remain high in area

Every region of Alaska was considered to be at “intermediate” or “high”… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
The entrance to Soldotna Public Library is seen on Thursday, March 25, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska.
Soldotna library seeks to beef up reading programs

The Soldotna Public Library will use a $2,200 donation from the Soldotna… Continue reading

Characters from the "Little Mermaid" wave to the crowd from the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Soldotna Progress Days parade on Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Progress on parade

The Progress Days Parade was held Saturday in Soldotna.… Continue reading

Most Read