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Santa's reindeer get clean bill of health and permits to fly across Pennsylvania

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Santa’s reindeer were given a clean bill of health in preparation for their global flight on Christmas Eve.

The nine reindeer — Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph — received a thorough check-up by State Veterinarian Kevin Brightbill and the staff at ZooAmerica in Hershey.

"Despite one’s glaringly red nose and their magical ability to fly, word is that they’re in extraordinary health,” Brightbill said during an event at HersheyPark, where the reindeer reside during their off time.

The reindeer received a certificate of veterinary inspection and permit to ship via the state Department of Agriculture, which allows them to fly from rooftop to rooftop in Pennsylvania for the purpose of toy delivery. 

“Not everyone knows what takes place behind the scenes to allow Santa and his nine reindeer to take flight on Christmas Eve,” said state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Thanks to Dr. Brightbill, his counterpart in the North Pole, the care of ZooAmerica veterinarians, and Santa’s due diligence, families can expect gifts under the tree Christmas morning.”  

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The reindeer also received clearance to fly to Pennsylvania from Dr. Robert F. Gerlach, Alaska’s state veterinarian.  

Dancer the reindeer is pictured during a press conference, announcing that Santa’s reindeer have received a clean bill of health and are cleared for take-off on December 24, at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane on Wednesday, December 21, 2022. “Not everyone knows what takes place behind the scenes to allow Santa and his nine reindeer to take flight on Christmas Eve,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “Thanks to Dr. Brightbill, his counterpart in the North Pole, the care of ZooAmerica veterinarians, and Santa’s due diligence, families can expect gifts under the tree Christmas morning.”

Such certificates are required as an assurance that contagious diseases are not carried across state lines. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture veterinarians supply these certifications for animals residing in Pennsylvania before they’re transported across state lines. 

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