TV-loving domestic reindeer becomes celebrity in Arctic Finland

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Aatu was abandoned by his reindeer mother when he was a calf. (Yle)
Aatu was abandoned by his reindeer mother when he was a calf. (Yle)
Aatu, a domesticated reindeer in Finland’s Arctic city of Rovaniemi, enjoys watching his favourite TV show, Heartbeat 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.

VIDEO: Click here to view Aatu the reindeer at home with Yle Lapland reporter Pia Tuukkanen.

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 — well, for the most part.

Pia Tuukkanen has formed a special bond with her pet reindeer. (Jarmo Honkanen / Yle)
Pia Tuukkanen has formed a special bond with her pet reindeer. (Jarmo Honkanen / Yle)

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 six years old, 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 160 kilos.

Aatu the reindeer belongs to Yle Lapland reporter Pia Tuukkanen.

Related Links:

Counting elusive Finnish forest reindeer in Russian Karelia, Yle News

Reindeer slow global warming says study, Yle News

Reindeer husbandry falters in Finland, Yle News

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