You know that end scene from Frozen 2? The one when Sven leads the trapped reindeer out of the enchanted forest and they swirl in a delirious circle of happiness? Yeah, that one.
It turns out that reindeer actually do that! Well, maybe not the enchanted forest part. But they do run in circles as a herd, as seen in this amazing video.
The reindeer move in a circle called a cyclone when they feel threatened. This behavior was recorded by Vikings, who hunted reindeer. When they faced the threat of hunters, reindeer moved together to form a cyclone around the threat. They moved so fast in circles that it made it hard for the hunters to focus on an animal long enough to take them down. Once the hunters were sufficiently disoriented (and likely dizzy), the reindeer dispersed.
It is unclear what threat they perceived in this video. A car is nearby but the footage was captured from above, likely from a drone. The caption does not include details about who took the footage or what equipment they used. But based on the birds-eye view that we get, the camera was well above the actual reindeer on the ground.
The center of the cyclone shifts and moves as the reindeer run for multiple minutes. The reindeer at the center are mostly still, while the ones further out can run faster. There are stragglers on the furthest edges, who occasionally join back in the cyclone.
The caption calls the sight “mesmerizing” and that is absolutely true! The drone moves directly overhead and we are treated to an even more interesting view of the center of the cyclone. It is still unclear what threat there is. It is possible that a few reindeer felt threatened and started to run. Then the herd instinctively started their cyclone behavior, knowing it is the best defense that they have when they are in large numbers.
The drone flies over the herd, showing more of the countryside. There are lakes and streams nearby, as well as plenty of grass and small trees and shrubs. Turning around to face the herd again, we see that these animals have changed direction. They start to move away from the returning camera, in more of a straight line than a cyclone. Is it possible that the drone was the threat all along? Without a clear center to focus on, the reindeer would have resorted to the best defense they know, the cyclone.
The drone makes one more pass. You can see people returning to their vehicles as reindeer run down a nearby hill. The reindeer pick up speed before the drone turns away, having captured amazing footage of the majestic animals in the wild.
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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Pav-Pro Photography Ltd/Shutterstock.com
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