Two more moose are “loose” in the free-roaming area of Northwest Trek, starting the latest chapters in their lives that took a turn for the better when the orphaned animals were rescued in other states and taken to the wildlife park.
The two calves, an approximately 600-pound female from Alaska and a male from Idaho weight approximately 500 pouns, were released last Wednesday into their new surroundings, where they now can be spotted by Trek visitors taking tram tours.
Their addition doubles the population of free-roaming moose to four in the 435-acre forested and meadowed habitat. It’s dedicated specifically to Northwest animals that need room to move about as they forage for their food.
Moose are herbivores that munch on twigs, roots, woody stems, branches and leaves.
Trek officials said the pair of calves are a rescue success story involving wildlife advocates in three states.
Each calf began life the hard way. A hunter found the male calf abandoned in an Idaho stream, dehydrated and malnourished. The female was discovered orphaned in Alaska.
Veterinary and other zoological staff bottle-fed the calves, fed them long tree limbs with leaves still attached, and gradually increased their diets.
The calves, now about 11 months old, arrived at Northwest Trek last summer.
A third orphaned moose calf that arrived at about the same time is still living behind the scenes at the Eatonville-area wildlife park.
The two moose calves that began curiously exploring the free-roam part of the park last week join two older females. An older bull moose, which was about 8 years old, died recently, park officials reported.
When the calves made their first appearance separately last year at Trek, officials described them as gangly and wobbly, but curious and playful. They were responsive to keepers who supplied them with food – mostly branches and fat leaves of vine maple, big leaf maple, alder and cottonwood. Bananas were also on their menu.
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 considered ideal for moose that can’t be returned to to the wild.
While the calves were gaining better health and growing, they were fragile. Life for orphaned animals can be tenuous, Trek officials noted.