NOEL THE HIGH PARK REIN­DEER

She has a nose de­signed to with­stand the cold and a dream to pull Santa’s sleigh,

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - JANE WELOWSZKY SPE­CIAL TO THE STAR

Most ador­ing pet own­ers would do any­thing for their cher­ished com­pan­ions, but could they speak for their furry or feath­ered or finned friends and tell us what they are think­ing? To find out, we’re putting pet own­ers to the test with the per­son­al­ity ques­tion­naire made fa­mous by French nov­el­ist Mar­cel Proust.

Meet Sonya Dit­tkrist and Noel. When it comes to “rein­deer games,” three-year-old Noel is some­what of an ex­pert. Play­ful, in­quis­i­tive and fun lov­ing, the pop­u­lar res­i­dent of the High Park Zoo is al­ways up for an ad­ven­ture. She spends her days hap­pily meet­ing and greet­ing vis­i­tors, su­per­vis­ing zookeeper Dit­tkrist dur­ing her rounds and keep­ing younger sis­ters Aurora and Snowflake in line.

Per­fectly adapted for Cana­dian win­ters, Noel’s hooves are like mini snow­shoes al­low­ing her to prance around on ice and snow to her heart’s con­tent.

Her thick, light-coloured win­ter coat that grows in each year keeps her toasty warm, and the layer of soft fur on her nose is de­signed to with­stand the most frigid con­di­tions.

“Rein­deer are so well adapted — most an­i­mals don’t have that,” says Dit­tkrist.

Noel’s ears and tail are short and com­pact as well to help guard against frost­bite.

When it comes to treats, Noel’s favourites in­clude car­rots, ap­ples, peanuts and melon.

Grass also ranks high on her list, and dur­ing the sum­mer months the rein­deer en­clo­sure usu­ally re­sem­bles a care­fully man­i­cured golf course.

Like all young rein­deer, Noel’s dream is to one day pull Santa’s sleigh on Christ­mas Eve.

“We sus­pect the rein­deer might have been do­ing se­cret drills at night in prepa­ra­tion,” di­vulges Dit­tkrist.

“If you stop by the zoo tonight, I don’t know if you’ll see Noel be­cause she just might be called up this year!”

What is Noel’s most marked char­ac­ter­is­tic?

She’s an ex­tro­vert. She’s in­cred­i­bly so­cial and loves meet­ing peo­ple. She also loves dogs, which is rare be­cause a dog is (con­sid­ered) a preda­tor.

What is Noel’s idea of per­fect bliss?

A snowy, cold win­ter day with lots of treats.

What is Noel’s most trea­sured pos­ses­sion?

Christ­mas trees (mi­nus the dec­o­ra­tions of course). She loves to play with them.

She picks them up with her antlers and tosses them around.

What does Noel con­sider the most over­rated virtue?

Re­straint.

What does Noel most value in her friends?

Play­ful­ness, a will­ing­ness to share their food, and loy­alty — be­ing a herd animal, you al­ways like to have your group to­gether.

What makes Noel mis­er­able?

Sum­mer.

Who is Noel’s hero in real life?

Ru­dolph — for mak­ing the cut and de­fy­ing the odds.

When Christ­mas was go­ing to be cancelled, he saved the day.

What is Noel’s motto?

Eat, play and be merry! If you think you know what your animal com­pan­ion is think­ing, email

petpsy­che@gmail.com and tell us why they should be pro­filed.

COLE BURSTON/TORONTO STAR

Sonya Dit­tkrist with Noel, one of the rein­deer at the High Park Zoo. Noel’s favourite treats in­clude car­rots, ap­ples, peanuts and melon.

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