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Utah reindeer farm needs help after series of tragedies

Posted at 7:53 AM, Apr 10, 2023

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A South Jordan man who helps to bring smiles to Utahns around the state with his reindeer is in need of support after a series of tragedies struck his herd.

Jeff Mabey runs a small farm that's been in his family for generations and serves as a suburban oasis in the Salt Lake Valley.

Mabey and his wife grew up around horses and farm-life for their entire lives and decided to branch out with reindeer in 2019.

"And they were delivered [in] June 2020," Mabey explained. "So our first ones were Tinsel, Holly and Peppermint. They were our first three here on the farm."

"Jingle" and "Olaf" joined the herd in 2021 and requests for reindeer appearances quickly started rolling in.

The Mabey's love to see the joy their reindeer bring people, especially around Christmastime.

"They're amazing animals, they bring a smile wherever they go," Mabey reflected.

But late last year, tragedy struck the herd.

First, two of the reindeer escaped their trailer on a return trip from the ice castles and both were hit by vehicles. Jingle passed away while Peppermint survived but with significant injuries.

"Things were going really well and then all of a sudden, I think after the shock wore off, her body just couldn't handle it, and due to injuries from being hit she passed away suddenly," Mabey explained. "That was a major toll...major, super, super hard."

In the middle of that, Holly contracted pneumonia and needed extensive and expensive veterinary care.

To help alleviate the burden of thousands of dollars in vet bills and to hopefully purchase a new reindeer, a friend started a Gofundme campaign for the family.

"So our goal is primarily, first and foremost is to rehabilitate Holly," Mabey said. "Get her on track to gaining weight and everything. And then we need to add to our herd again to help bring joy to other people all around the state for this next coming season."

The reindeer are purchased from a farm in Washington state and can cost upwards of $10,000 apiece.

On top of that, several Utah permits are needed to bring them to the Beehive State.

Mabey said in the Gofundme that they're fighting for their herd each day and hope that at the end of this experience, it'll help their family come out stronger than before.