When you're a kid anticipating the arrival of Christmas, you keep several facts and figures in your head at all times.
The number of times you've been naughty during the past year and the number of times you've been nice are high on that brain-based list (and let's hope that the latter figure trumps the former).
You also keep in mind how many reindeer lead Santa's sleigh. That would be nine, with Rudolph and his fog-best probiscus in position numero uno, of course. Which means that if you saw reindeer elsewhere, in December, back when you were a kid, you got a mite concerned: Shouldn't those reindeer be in the North Pole, resting and eating hay and preparing for the Big Flight?
Let your mind be at ease should you and your offspring visit the reindeer currently holidaying at the Los Angeles Zoo. They arrived -- or, er, touched down, we mean -- on Tuesday, Nov. 26, and shall stay in LA through Thursday, Jan. 2.
We know. That's over Christmas, but worry not: These reindeer are Belle, Jingle, Noel, and Velvet, meaning that Santa's main team -- Dasher, Dancer et al -- will be ready to lift his sleigh come Christmas Eve.
May we call the current zoo visitors the Alternate Sleigh Team, ready to be called in at a moment's notice? Let's.
So you're welcome to admire the quartet of antlered beasties any time between Thanksgiving and the day after New Year's Day, and do so without paying an extra fee: Reindeer Romp is free with your zoo admission.
A few notes: Weekends from Nov. 29 through Dec. 22 get extra jolly, what with Santa stopping by and "animal behavioral enrichment presents." Those are the best sort of presents, right? And you just wonder if the growl or grunt the beastie gives when receiving the surprise toy doesn't translate into some version of "for meeeee?"
You know it does.
Also, the zoo is closed Christmas Day. Hmm. Maybe Belle, Jingle, Noel, and Velvet do need to join the North Pole team after all. If we're not actually seeing them on Dec. 25, are they actually flying overhead? Discuss.