The time I met an orphaned baby moose

The Maine Wildlife Park is a special place. I’ve come to that conclusion from the few times I’ve visited.

Being a reporter for the BDN, I’ve been lucky enough to be led on a few backstage tours of the park, guided by veteran park volunteers and staff.

A 5-month-old moose at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

A 5-month-old moose at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

On my most recent visit to the park, I was researching a certain wildcat for an upcoming story. (I’ll post a blog about that later, after the story is published.) And while I was there, I read a display about a baby moose, so I asked park superintendent Curt Johnson, “So you have a new baby moose?” I was hoping he’d direct me to the right exhibit, so I could catch a glimpse of the young moose before leaving. He did me one better.

He brought me behind the exhibits, to a place closed off from the public, and led me to a small building where they feed the moose. It was like a horse stall, but reverse. We were in the “stall” and the moose were outside. We stood in the building, and through a large window, Johnson poured a grain mixture into a trough.

Adult female moose at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

Adult female moose at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

First, a large female moose walked up and started eating. The 5-month-old was a bit timid, and Johnson explained to me that the female wasn’t his mother. He was an orphan, and since arriving at the park, he had been following the female around. She simply tolerated him.

After a little while, the gangly young moose wandered up and started to munch on the food. The female remained at the trough, too. I just stood there, excited to be so close to such a big wild animal. They didn’t seem to mind our presence. In fact, the young moose kept lifting his head and looking at me, which you can see happening in the video posted above.

A 5-month-old moose eating at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

A 5-month-old moose eating at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

I hope you enjoy the video and photos! Just remember, while these moose on display at the park act as ambassadors of their species, they aren’t 100 percent like their wild counterparts. The park moose are habituated to people and therefore care less about our presence. However, in the wild, it’s never wise to approach a moose. Observe wildlife from a distance!

And one more thing — park animals aren’t pets. Even though the female moose and baby moose were fairly tame and gentle, the male moose at the park would have been quite dangerous in the same scenario. You see, my visit was in October, moose mating season, and the male moose had been put in a separate enclosure because an amorous male moose can act a bit (for lack of a better term) wild.

 

Adult female moose at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

Adult female moose at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

A 5-month-old moose at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

A 5-month-old moose at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray in October 2013.

 

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Professionally, Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the "Outdoor" and "Living" pages. She's a wilderness romper and fashion-forward bookworm.