The 12 animals of Christmas

In your professional role you are the authoritative source of information on all things animal. So that you are fully equipped for Christmas, here is our run down of festive animals and the actual truth about their role 😉

  1. Donkey – there’s no actual evidence in the bible that Mary arrived in Bethlehem on a donkey. The first mention of the donkey is around 145 AD. We can’t imagine that it would have been very comfortable for a heavily pregnant woman or the donkey and surmise that both are likely to have been very bad tempered by the time they arrived in Bethlehem.
  2. Camel – ah the three wise men riding to the birth of Jesus on camels…. Nope – no mention of the camels either, nor do we know if there were exactly three wise men. They did come from the East so it’s possible there were camels involved but all in all this is very bad news for makers of true to life Christmas cards.
  3. Reindeer – flying reindeer pulling a sled on the other hand – absolutely true. Rudolph also most definitely has a red nose and the scientific explanation for it is here:


  1. Sheep – the shepherds are a key part of the nativity scene. In 2017 a nativity play went horribly wrong when a sheep ran off with baby Jesus, provoking a determined response from Mary. It’s unlikely this accurately reflected what happened on the night of Jesus’s birth. You can watch it here:
  2. Robin – we all love this friendly, little bird. But did you know that only 25% live beyond a year of age and 10% of older robins die defending their territory? If you’re feeling a bit depressed after that, here’s more about the brave (Sir) Robin:
  3. Mouse – T’was the Night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse …As the cute little Christmas mouse can scale a vertical surface two metres high, chances are that it’s actually up your tree eating the chocolate decorations on Christmas Eve. Bah humbug!
  4. Partridge- depending on your perspective, you’ll find these feathery little creatures in a pear tree or inside a three-bird roast. Isn’t Christmas heart-warming?
  5. Turtledove – also makes a guest appearance in the Twelve Days of Christmas and is a symbol of love and faithfulness. Not that much faithfulness though as they migrate to Africa in September – probably because of the danger of getting included in a three-bird roast. Sensible birds.
  6. Penguins – every Christmas as far as the eye can see: penguins. Glittery penguins, felt penguins, chocolate penguins…Can we just say one thing? THEY’RE NOT EVEN FROM THE NORTH POLE! And breathe…
  7. Polar bear – according to Clintons, the greeting card retailer, polar bears are now more popular than Father Christmas on cards. Well don’t expect a polar bear to be delivering your presents, Linda. (walks off muttering…)
  8. Turkey – well yes, an integral part of Christmas. Allegedly, King Henry 8th was the first person to eat turkey on Christmas Day but given his treatment of his various wives we do have to call his judgement into question. In the US they take a slightly different approach and the President famously pardons the Thanksgiving turkey and allows him to live out his days on a farm. (‘Nation of animal lovers’ bows head in shame momentarily before asking, breast or leg?)
  9. Pets! Apparently pet owners in the UK will spend around £750 million on their pets this Christmas. In return they’ll destroy the Christmas tree, hog the fire and steal our chocolate, requiring a quick trip down to the practice for emergency treatment. Don’t you just love them? Yes. Yes we do!

Merry Christmas Everyone!