A Moose calf and his mother, Connie, are making a home in the Free-Roaming Area at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The male calf was born June 12.
The yet-to-be-named youngster brings the population of his species, at Northwest Trek, to five and is just the second Moose born at the wildlife park in the past 16 years. In addition to him and his mother, the calf’s 11-month-old sister, Willow, father, Ellis; and another adult female, Nancy, also live at the wildlife park.
Keepers can only estimate his weight right now. “Calves generally weigh around 30 pounds at birth”, Zoological Curator Marc Heinzman said.
The growing youngster can gain around three pounds a day while nursing.
When fully grown, he’ll likely sport an impressive rack of antlers and could weigh more than 1,500 pounds. For now, he appears comfortable hanging out with mom and testing those spindly legs with wobbly steps through the forest.
Within the next two weeks, keepers will propose a slate of prospective names for the little guy. The Northwest-themed names will be posted at www.nwtrek.org, on the wildlife park’s Facebook page and publicized in a news release. Fans will have about two weeks to vote on their favorite, and the calf will receive the name that gets the most votes. That will happen in early July.
The growing moose family at Northwest Trek is a conservation success story. Both of the calves’ parents and the wildlife park’s third adult Moose all arrived as malnourished and abandoned orphans four years ago. Connie and Ellis were discovered, separately, hungry and in need of care in Idaho; Nancy was orphaned in Alaska. Northwest Trek keepers bottle fed the trio and gradually introduced them to browse: the tree limbs, twigs and leaves that are their primary diet. When they were old enough and strong enough, they joined other ungulates, or hooved mammals, in the wildlife park’s Free-Roaming Area.
The Moose (North America), Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. The palmate antlers of the males distinguish Moose; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic ("twig-like") configuration. They typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. The species used to have a much wider range but hunting and other human activities have greatly reduced it. Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Currently, most are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, Scandinavia, Latvia, Estonia and Russia.
Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Their most common predators are wolves, bears and humans. Unlike most other deer species, Moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for a female.
On average, an adult stands 1.4–2.1 m (4.6–6.9 ft) high at the shoulder. Males (or "bulls") normally weigh from 380 to 700 kg (838 to 1,543 lb) and females (or "cows") typically weigh 200 to 490 kg (441 to 1,080 lb). The head-and-body length is 2.4–3.1 m (7.9–10.2 ft), with the vestigial tail adding only a further 5–12 cm (2.0–4.7 in). Typically, the antlers of a mature bull are between 1.2 m (3.9 ft) and 1.5 m (4.9 ft).
Females have an eight-month gestation period, usually bearing one calf, or twins if food is plentiful, in May or June. Newborns have fur with a reddish hue, in contrast to the brown appearance of an adult. The young will stay with the mother until just before the next young are born. The average life span is about 15–25 years.