In WWII, British Sailors Took A Reindeer Aboard A Submarine Out Of Politeness
International diplomacy is a dangerous tightrope, and one slip can mean the geopolitical equivalent of a broken neck (nukes, lots of nukes). So when your strongest ally offers you a gift of friendship, you accept it no matter the circumstances.
Even if that gift is a reindeer.
And you're in a submarine.
During the early days of World War II, the British sub HMS Trident was fighting a bitter and cold battle against Germans in the Arctic Circle. This was greatly appreciated by the local Soviet Navy, which hadn't had any backup since the start of the war. One day, the story goes, a Soviet admiral was talking to the Trident's captain, whose wife had complained to him about plowing the snow back home. The admiral replied, "You need a reindeer!" Much laughter was had, until the admiral presented the submarine with an actual reindeer as a ceremonial gift. The Brits, being as eminently British as possible, politely accepted and, not knowing what to do, proceeded to push their gift through the torpedo hole.
Little reindeer Pollyanna (named after the sub's base) lived with the Trident's crew for the next six weeks, consuming her share of moss, condensed milk, and oxygen, even knocking the sailors aside when it was time to resurface for air. But despite her diva tendencies, the crew grew to love that crazy beast, and the captain even let her sleep under his bed.
National Museum of the Royal NavyWartime naval engagement has never looked this adorable.