Fourteen reindeer and one caribou brought cheer during the Cold War days in Operation Reindeer. The gift delivery required elaborate planning, with animals traveling by air, sea, and land to get from Alaska to DC.
One rowdy reindeer even kicked the Alaska Air National Guard plane door open at 2000 feet. Luckily, the two zoo officials accompanying them used all their strength to pull it closed.
Eight reindeer were chosen to live at the National Mall and pull Santa’s sleigh in the parade while the others lived at the National Zoo. All were reunited at the zoo after the holidays.
– Rebecca Hastings, The Washington DC 100