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Central Coast Living: Sledding, snow leopards & reindeer at the Santa Barbara Zoo

Posted at 8:44 AM, Nov 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 12:16:52-05

The Santa Barbara Zoo has special holiday exhibits and events to check out before the year is over, including snow!

“We bring 80 tons of snow to the zoo’s hilltop,” said Dean Noble with Santa Barbara Zoo.

At this Sunday’s Snow Leopard Festival at the zoo, kids can slide down the fresh powder on sleds provided by the zoo. Meanwhile, adults can sip on mimosas.

The event is a fun way for people to learn about snow leopards and celebrate the holiday season.

Courtesy: Santa Barbara Zoo

A pair of reindeer are wintering in the Santa Barbara sunshine.

“Their names are Peppermint and Cookie,” Noble said. “Cookie is the one that still has the fabulous antlers.”

The reindeer are a big hit with zoo visitors.

“It was so neat to see all their horns up close,” said Alicia Peak of Malibu.

“It’s always a treat to see them at Christmas time,” said Marci Lassen of Camarillo.

Cookie and Peppermint are training to one day pull Santa’s sleigh!

Courtesy: Santa Barbara Zoo

“The Santa Barbara Zoo is the perfect place for it because they can take off and land on East Beach right across the street from us,” said Noble. “They’ve also been given runway privileges by the Santa Barbara Airport.”

Santa will stop by on weekends all season to check on his reindeer trainees and hear what kids have on their wishlists.

Santa will also be at the zoo on weekdays once students out of school for winter break.

The reindeer will be at the Santa Barbara Zoo until New Year’s Day but – “As to whether or not these two will return next year, you know that’s really up to the North Pole,” Noble said.

The Snow Leopard Festival and sledding event is Sunday from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. Kids can go sledding and play in bounce houses from $5, in addition to regular zoo admission.

The Santa Barbara Zoo will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The zoo has numerous holiday events planned through the month of December.

The Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero is preparing for a visit from Santa on December 15. Santa is set to give gifts to the zoo animals to open and enjoy.