It’s December and the thoughts of many are turning to the upcoming holidays and all they must do to prepare and celebrate.

So I’ll just do a feel-good story to ease you into the month.

Long, long ago, Scotland had reindeer. Those reindeer disappeared sometime between 800 and 8,000 years ago. But finding the exact time and reason for their disappearance is not our story.

Our story starts in 1947 when a reindeer herder from northern Sweden, Mikel Utsi, saw the Highlands of Scotland and thought about how much it reminded him of home. By the way, he did other things besides being a reindeer herder, but he obviously enjoyed that part of his history because five years after seeing Sweden in Scotland, he brought over some reindeer to check out this new home.

Northern slopes of Cairn Gorm View northwards from near the summit, overlooking the Ptarmigan top station and Loch Morlich. Photo by Trevor Rickard via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1952 he and his wife started reintroducing reindeer to Scotland and they spent the rest of their lives caring for, and teaching others to care for, their herd. Now there is a thriving herd in this sub-arctic ecosystem. Luckily they also have a website so they can share that herd with the world.

I recommend you check out their website, The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd. From the content on the website, this project appears to be run with love and humor. And reindeer seem to be friendly and social animals. 

Reindeer, Cairngorm. Photo by Pari Passu via Wikimedia Commons.

From their blog, here is a post about the arrival of the first reindeer, which includes some great historical photos. I also love this page of the website, which shows the family, employees, and volunteers who care for the herd, using photos that include their interactions with the reindeer.

And since we have gift-giving holidays coming up, they have a unique and fun gift. Adopt a reindeer for a year!

Next time you’re in the Highlands, consider adding one of their Hill Trips or Paddock Visits to your itinerary.