Baby Tundra Animals Making Their Debut

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - 20 reindeer calves and 6 musk ox calves were celebrated at the LARS Annual Birthday Bash.

The community had its first chance to see the new calves at this year's (LARS), Large Animal Research Station, Birthday Bash. There are 6 Musk Ox calves and 20 reindeer calves. Half of the reindeer are male, the other half are female. LARS has been working with these species ever since it was created, in 1979.

"LARS is an active research station with the mission of maintain healthy research herds of reindeer and musk oxen," began Animal Care Technician Sarah Barcalow; ", and our other part of our mandate is education outreach. So educating the public about these animals, their life history, their biology, and also about some of the research we do here at LARS."

From genetics to nutrition, to reproductive studies; the station's research has helped bring understanding about these animals in many ways. It has been especially helpful to Musk Oxen, as they have the only captive research herd in the world. LARS also tests field equipment before it is used in the wild, such as unmanned aircraft. The Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, or ACUASI, has a special relationship with the research station.

"We have a long standing partnership with LARS, in fact, they were good to us," said ACUASI's Director of Education Michael Hatfield. "We were doing some animal research and they allowed us to fly our first ever operational mission."

"We're able to get into places more quietly than a manned aircraft could," said Chief Pilot Lee Winningham.

Other groups, like the Fairbanks Children's Museum were also there. Tour guides were onsite, telling people about the species as well how the herds have been doing this year.

Around 2 o'clock, cakes were brought out. This year's flavors were Watermelon Blueberry Ice Cake, as well as Grain Mash Cake.

Patrons were also able to suggest the theme that the animals will be named after. For example, last year's musk ox names were 'Star Wars' themed. The names will be announced on the research station's Facebook page sometime next month.