Star the reindeer passes away at 15

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Star the reindeer died suddenly Saturday afternoon at the age of 15 and a half.

The reindeer, who was popular with Alaskans and tourists alike, was regularly seen in downtown Anchorage being led around by owner Albert Whitehead.

Whitehead says the reindeer's full-name was Star number six. He has been with all the previous "Stars" going back to 1961. "This particular Star was hand-raised, she was abandoned by her mother at birth," said Whitehead. She was bottle-fed and she never got acclimated to other reindeer. She would go so far as to fight other reindeer if she came into contact with them.

"She only wanted to be around people and dogs, particularly my dog who she loved to run around and play with in the backyard," said Whitehead.

Whitehead said 15-years-old makes Star a "senior, senior reindeer." Personality wise, Whitehead said she was the most gentle reindeer he has owned: "She had a very unique calm personality."

A sign was posted at Whitehead's property announcing the news of Star's death: "Returning for a short walk on Saturday afternoon, Star suddenly collapsed and died at home."

Star was an Alaskan born, Canadian reindeer who came from Tom Williams' herd at the reindeer farm in Palmer. Her ancestors came from Kotzebue and walked across the North Slope into Canada in the 1920's, explained Whitehead.

Whithead says Star's last day was spent being given treats: "She spent most of her last day in the backyard with Pepper and me just hanging out bumming grapes and mini wheats, her favorite treats."

"She's had failing health for last few months, so we expected it, but it's still a shock," said Whitehead.