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New home for orphaned moose calves

2:42 pm October 25th, 2012

A three-state effort to save them has three orphaned moose calves living at Northwest Trek.

Two of the calves – a male and a female – were rescued in Idaho. A female was found stranded in Alaska. All three are about four months old, according to officials at the Eatonville-area wildlife park, where they’re under the care of keepers and veterinarians.

The calves are being raised behind the scenes until next spring, when they’ll likely be released into Northwest Trek’s 435-acre free-roam area and join one adult male and two adult females already living there as part of the park’s visitor tours.

Officials said the gangly calves are wobbly on their legs but curious and playful. They’re responsive to keepers who supply them with food – mostly branches and fat leaves of vine maple, big leaf maple, alder and cottonwood. Bananas are also on their diet.

Life wasn’t so good for the calves. A hunter found the male abandoned in an Idaho stream, dehydrated and malnourished. The female from Idaho was discovered beneath a house, her mother nowhere around.

After rescuing them, wildlife authorities in Idaho and Alaska asked Northwest Trek to adopt the calves. The park’s staff has expertise in caring for moose and other large hooved animals, and the free-roam environment is ideal for moose can’t be returned to to the wild, said zoological curator Heidi Hellmuth. She noted that while the calves appear to be gaining health and growing, they still are fragile. Life for orphaned animals can be tenuous, she added.

A moose calf cavorts in a meadow at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The female was taken there after being rescued in Alaska. (Courtesy photo)

The three animals arrived at Northwest Trek separately in a period of several weeks between July and early September. One of the females weighs about 260 pounds; the other one roughly 126 pounds. The male tips the scale at about 170 pounds. Each could top 1,000 pounds when fully grown, officials said.

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