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LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — Northern Colorado is a long way from the North Pole, but that didn’t stop rancher Chris Jessen from introducing an alternative livestock.

“I’ve always loved (the) deer and elk here in Colorado. And reindeer are just another species of deer or cervids,” Jessen said.

There goes the neighborhood. In three years, The Jessen Reindeer Ranch in Loveland has gone from seven to 10 reindeer. Chris sounds like a proud papa when talking about his exotic additions.

“Both the girls and boys grow antlers. I’m always fascinated with antlers and how they grow,” Jessen said. “Reindeer have more hair per square inch than any other land animal. These guys can survive in temperatures as low as -70 degrees.”

That’s good, because Jessen’s reindeer are worked primarily during the winter as displays for public and private events.

“We book up pretty much in July,” Jessen said. “We’ve had to turn down 90-plus events this year.”

The holiday season is especially busy. Outside of tree lightings and office parties, Jessen’s herd has another huge responsibility.

“When Christmas Eve comes, we have these guys all ready to go in case one of Santa’s reindeer gets sick or maybe they’re just tired,” Jessen said with a wink.

Until then, Jessen’s backup plan will be waiting in the bullpen.