The Caribou, also called caribou in North America, is an iconic species of large deer with varied sub-species, resident in boreal, tundra, subarctic, and arctic areas of northern North America. This comprises both migratory and sedentary populations. This species feeds on a variety of plant and animal matter, with the larger animals preying on the smaller ones. In times of abundance, they are most active in summer, with the fall and winter seasons offering much less food. Caribou winters are harsh, however, with food scarcity often forcing the animals to walk long distances for grazing.
A hungry and frightened bull calf is likely to become a solitary animal during its initial few weeks of life. As it grows, it will become increasingly more aggressive and take over the clumps of young tree-camels as it drives out others. These clumps mature into bull calves which are stronger and more mature than those that were born the previous year. During this time, the animals begin to travel in packs, beginning their trek to becoming adult.
Their graceful movement is swift, with the leader of a herd leading the others. The young calves follow, following behind. They move slowly but surely, often trotting or galloping along behind. Their short tresses and silky hair give them the appearance of being almost skinless from neck to tail. A sleek and flexible body, with a thick ruff of down provides most of their camouflage.
A pregnant Caribou mother will stay nearby, to tend to her growing calf. The mother will keep an eye on the calf until it is weaned. Then she will take the calf into her own care. This usually happens in the spring, although some have been weaned as early as November. However, it is rare for a mother to stay around to nurse her calf while it is in its mother’s care.
Mother Caribou gives birth to up to eight calves during one season – normally two at a time. The young grow up quickly, with some reaching maturity in just a few months. Their lives span for two years. At that time, the mother has weaned all of her children and is taking care of the oldest. Sometimes, the younger ones are sold to help pay for the needs of the older.
In conclusion, a Caribou mother has been through four stages of life. At birth, she gives birth, keeps watch over her young, makes sure they reach adulthood, then takes them on their journey out of the forests. When the time is right, she puts them on their annual migration, a trek of at least nine hundred miles across frozen lakes and harsh terrains. It is a long, difficult trip for her offspring. Now, it is your turn. Learn how to become a specialized animal trainer.