Merry Christmas - check out this sleigh full of precious gifts at Blackpool Zoo

One of the new festival pals at Blackpool Zoo
One of the new festival pals at Blackpool Zoo

Blackpool Zoo has welcomed a full crew of eight reindeer to its herd - naming them after Father Christmas's famous crew.

Christmas has come early at the Stanley Park attraction, with keepers naming them Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.

Some of the new additions to the reindeer herd at Blackpool Zoo

Some of the new additions to the reindeer herd at Blackpool Zoo

Staff at the zoo say the five girls and three boys were born to different mothers, but all share the same father Ghost, who is the head of the herd and only moved to Blackpool last year.

Johnpaul Houston, assistant head keeper at Blackpool Zoo, said: "We are enjoying a wonderful birthing season here at Blackpool Zoo this year with new babies arriving every day.

"There has been a lot of excitement at the reindeer house after we welcomed eight healthy calves over the last few weeks.

"We have everyone apart from Rudolph, so we do wonder if Santa will be getting in touch later in the year.

And he's off - a new reindeer calf at Blackpool Zoo

And he's off - a new reindeer calf at Blackpool Zoo

"They are all absolutely gorgeous and are already running round enjoying this glorious weather."

Reindeer calves are typically born in May and June. In native countries such as Finland, calves are born when the snow has started to melt and the weather is getting warmer.

Reindeer calves are well developed when they are born with lots of fur for insulation. Their birth weight doubles during the first month and antlers start to grow in the first weeks.

The original eight reindeers of Santa’s sleigh were named in the 1823 poem A Visit from St Nicholas, which is also known as The Night Before Christmas.

Kept in line, a new addition to the Blackpool Zoo reindeer herd follows its mum

Kept in line, a new addition to the Blackpool Zoo reindeer herd follows its mum