RANUA ZOO ... ,.... I could have taken a tour that cost over a hundred Euros, but I opted to do it on my own. It was very easy to do, but I did probably stand out in the cold, waiting for a bus, more that if I had taken the first option.

Going south was interesting to see the changes one hour could make. In Rovaniemi, the trees were covered with ice on all sides. In Ranua they were laden down with snow. And, -20 degree C weather did not make it for peak tourist season at the zoo. I know there were possibly seven or eight people visiting the zoo when I was there, but I didn't see them as I slipped and slid through the mile and a half route. It was a magical setting for a zoo. There were glistening trees in all directions. It could not have been more beautiful. But like at most zoos, I really wished the enclosures had been about three times their size.


I went to see reindeer, but there were also yak, wolves, polar bears, otters, lot of owls, and the friendliest moose. He followed me back and forth along the fence. I really think he wanted me to pet him. He certainly wanted attention and I never thought I'd be that close to a moose.


Any idea why this wasn't open in the winter? One slippery otter

In one of the gift shops, there were reindeer pelts for sale, but they were marked as Quality II. I asked the most helpful clerk if there were other qualities. Yes, Quality II might have a brand on the hide, a hole, or even be missing a leg. Quality I was perfect. And, the more white the coloring, the more expensive. All pelts had tails because that was a sign of good luck. (Apparently, it didn't help the reindeer any.) She went on to talk about how Finns used all parts of the animal in their handiwork because there were only so many materials available in the Arctic.

Finally, I was asked if I'd eaten reindeer meat. After all, it was both tasty and very lean. No, I hadn't been able to bring myself to do that. I asked the clerk her favorite way to eat it. She talked about little slices of meat with "smashed" potatoes and berry sauce. Forget Rudolph, I was salivating. When she said it was available in the cafeteria, I was on my way. Yes, I ate Rudolph. Yes, I felt guilty. But, yes, it was a delicious meal. Did I mention I felt guilty?


Copyright 2009 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.