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NATURE: Santa's Wild Home

Reindeer. Lapland, Finland.
Courtesy of Matt Hamilton © Terra Mater Factual Studios
Reindeer. Lapland, Finland.

Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023 at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9 at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10 at Noon on KPBS TV and Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2 / Stream now with KPBS Passport!

Green lights dance across a star-filled sky, and snowflakes sparkle on the trees. It is little wonder Lapland is famous as a realm of elves and flying reindeer, the magical home of Santa Claus. However, this northernmost region of mainland Europe is a real place with real animals, such as reindeer, great gray owls, eagles, wolves, musk oxen and brown bears, who live out their lives in the tundra and forest.

On NATURE "Santa's Wild Home," get an intimate look into life in Lapland through the changing seasons, long after the Christmas lights are taken down, where only the toughest survive.

NATURE: Preview of Santa's Wild Home

Featured Species:

  • Great Gray owl
  • Eurasian wolf
  • Golden eagle
  • European Brown bear
  • Reindeer
  • Musk ox
  • Eurasian Lynx
  • Black grouse
  • Wolverine
  • Orca
Follow Thousands of Reindeer on an Epic Journey

Buzzworthy Moments:

  • Witness the mass migration of hundreds of thousands of reindeer. Guided by Sami herders, the two-week journey is a spectacular sight. As the snow begins to thaw with the change of seasons, the reindeer need to reach their feeding grounds by the coast, before the snow gets too soft to run on.
  • A mother brown bear teaches her young cubs how to find food and to survive threats, such as older male bears and wolverines. Each scrap of meat can be contested, as seen when the mother bear and a wolf fight over a meal.
  • The great gray owl is a nomad in the frozen forests. These owls can fly more than 1,000 miles in search of prey, hunting for signs of movement beneath the snow. One female owl has three little owlets to keep fed, and they demand several large meals a day. 

Noteworthy Facts:

  • Life in Lapland is a life of extremes. In the bleak midwinter, temperatures fall to 50 degrees below freezing and darkness lasts for weeks on end. Musk oxen survive this time of year by simply standing still; they hardly move or even feed for days at a time.
  • The Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis, was once thought to be the trail of a mythical fire fox dashing through the snow. According to Finnish folklore, the hunter who catches the fox would be rich and famous.
  • Orca are known as “wolves of the sea.” They have a special way of hunting herring, through a quick turn and their powerful tails sending shockwaves through the water to stun the fish. Gathering billions of herring with this technique keeps orca sustained through the long winter.
Why are Orcas Known as the “Wolves of the Sea”?

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A production of Terra Mater Factual Studios in association with THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. Written and directed by Matt Hamilton and edited by Tim Coope. Scott Brick is narrator. For TMFS, Martin Mészáros and Sabine Holzer are executive producers. For NATURE, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Bill Murphy is series producer and Janet Hess is series editor.