Northwest Trek WIldlife Park

Transporting Orphaned Moose Calves

Moose calves on board! Three orphaned moose calves safely arrived at Northwest Trek from Alaska earlier this month. Thanks to their transport provider FedEx for flying Luna, Atlas, and Callisto – such cute passengers.

Northwest Trek is grateful to The Alaska Zoo and Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center staff for their extraordinary care of these calves over many months. The 3-month-old calves Atlas, Luna, and Callisto, will remain behind the scenes as they continue to grow. The calves are being cared for round-the-clock and bottle-fed three times a day by Northwest Trek’s amazing veterinary and animal care staff. Learn more about the adorable moose calves at

Three Orphaned Moose Calves Arrive At Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

EATONVILLE, Wash.— Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is now home to three Alaskan moose calves after they were orphaned in the wild earlier this summer. Keepers have named the almost 3-month-old calves Atlas, Luna, and Callisto (Cuh-list-o) after the moons of several planets. 

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“Spruce the Moose Is Adorable!”


Northwest Trek recently held a naming contest for their newest Moose calf. Members of the public cast 4,337 votes in a naming survey conducted over a couple of weeks. There were three ‘tree-name’ choices up for the vote: Spruce, Douglas and Ash. And the winner is…Spruce!

Spruce, born June 12, is the second Moose born at the wildlife park near Eatonville, Washington, in the last 16 years. (See our previous article: "New Moose Calf for Northwest Trek Wildlife Park")

Spruce’s big sister, Willow, arrived last July 17 – a surprise gift on Northwest Trek’s 40th birthday.

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4_untitled (197 of 208)-X2Photo Credits: Ingrid Barrentine/Northwest Trek Wildlife Park


Many of Northwest Trek’s members, visitors and friends liked and commented on the naming survey on social media, giving their opinions on the choices submitted by keepers – and suggesting a few of their own. One comment, though, perfectly summed up what seemed to be the prevailing sentiment: “Awww Spruce the Moose would be adorable!” And, in fact, he is adorable.

Spruce spends his days hanging out with mother Connie, staying close but venturing out a little into the forest to munch on browse (twigs, leaves, tree branches). He also continues to nurse, and is growing quickly.

According to keepers, they just can’t haul a scale out into the woods, track down a moose and weigh him, so they have to estimate his weight. It’s approximately 50 pounds. (While nursing, a calf can gain up to three pounds a day.)

Spruce’s parents were named for Northwest Trek icons: Connie for the wildlife park’s co-founder, Connie Hellyer and his father, Ellis, was named for longtime wildlife park deputy director and conservationist, Dave Ellis. But in keeping with the wildlife park’s animal naming procedures that began a couple of years ago, Willow and the new calf will have identities that reflect the forests in which their species live.

Moose are the only residents of the wildlife park’s Free-Roaming Area that are given names.

Visitors aboard narrated tram tours of forests and meadows in the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area should keep sharp eyes out the windows, seeking a sighting of Northwest Trek’s five moose: adults Connie, Ellis, and Nancy and calves Willow and Spruce.

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New Moose Calf for Northwest Trek Wildlife Park


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.



4_160615_nwtrek_011Photo Credits: Ingrid Barrentine/Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

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, 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.

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Northwest Trek’s Moose Calf Is Four-Months-Old


At 4-months-old, Willow the Moose calf is growing fast. Keepers at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, near Eatonville, Washington, estimate she weighs between 120 and 130 pounds. Her legs are still long and spindly, but her body is filling out.

Willow is nearly weaned from her mother’s milk and is growing more independent each day.

She moves farther away from mom, Connie, in search of the foliage that makes up the bulk of her herbivore diet. She also has a hearty appreciation for the grain that keepers leave out to supplement the browse (branches and leaves) moose like to munch on.

She still has a quite a bit of growing to do. An adult female moose can weigh around 800 pounds.

The young moose was a most special surprise for Northwest Trek staff in 2015. She was born on July 17, the wildlife park’s 40th birthday. ZooBorns shared news of her birth in an article from early September: "First Moose Born in Fifteen Years at Northwest Trek"



4_151123_nwtrek_moose_076Photo Credits: Ingrid Barrentine / Northwest Trek

Willow’s name was chosen by members of the public who gave it the most votes from a slate of prospective names selected by wildlife park keepers.

Every visit to Northwest Trek includes a 50-minute, narrated tour of the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area, which is home to Willow and her mom, Connie; two other moose, Ellis and Nancy; plus herds of American bison and majestic Roosevelt Elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, a pair of trumpeter swans and other animals.

In addition to the chance to see Willow during the tram tour of the Free-Roaming Area, visitors also can walk forested pathways past natural exhibits with many other native Northwest animals, including black and grizzly bears, wolves, foxes, Canada lynx, bobcats, beavers, river otters, owls – and, fittingly this week, a turkey vulture.

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First Moose Born in Fifteen Years at Northwest Trek

1_image001She is tough and resilient and as beautiful as an integral piece of the Northwest landscape. So it’s not surprising that members of the public picked "Willow" as the name for Northwest Trek Wildlife Park’s 7-week-old moose calf.



4_11928739_10153245902819862_5537067840285774548_oPhoto Credits: Oona Copperhill/Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Willow is the first moose born at the 725-acre wildlife park near Eatonville, Washington, in 15 years, and she arrived as a very special delivery on July 17 – Northwest Trek’s 40th birthday.

Staff members nominated three Northwest-themed names for the calf: Willow, Lily and Aspen. The public chose Willow through voting in an online survey over the last month.

Willow’s mother, Connie, was named in honor of Northwest Trek co-founder Connie Hellyer. Her father, Ellis, was named in memory of Dave Ellis, a longtime deputy director of the wildlife park.

One other adult moose, Nancy, also wanders the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area at Northwest Trek. The moose are often visible to members of the public as visitors ride trams for a narrated tour of the forests and meadows.

Anyone visiting Northwest Trek is up for a possible peek at the moose family, as well as up-close views of other animals in the Free-Roaming Area, which is home to American bison, Roosevelt elk, deer, and bighorn sheep. And, of course, there also are black and grizzly bears, gray wolves, foxes, Canada lynx, bobcats, coyotes, a cougar, beavers, a river otter, fishers, badgers, skunks, raccoons, owls and other animals in natural exhibits along paved pathways in the main area of the wildlife park.

In the Free-Roaming Area, Willow continues to thrive, Northwest Trek Deputy Director Alan Varsik said, “She is still nursing and also sampling browse, such as willow and maple cuttings, and she’s starting to show a little more independence,” he said. “Connie is taking the occasional time out, where she leaves Willow for a brief period of time. Under the watchful eye of Connie, Willow has also had positive encounters with our other moose.”

The moose (alces alces) is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males. They typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Unlike most other deer species, moose prefer to be solitary and do not form herds.

Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move surprisingly quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between rivaling males.

The moose is a herbivore and is capable of consuming many types of plant or fruit. Much of a moose’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation, mainly consisting of forbs and other non-grasses, and fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch.

Moose lack upper front teeth, but they have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw. They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation. A moose’s upper lip is also very sensitive, to help distinguish between fresh shoots and harder twigs. Their lip is also prehensile, for grasping their food.

Moose are excellent swimmers and are known to wade in search of aquatic plants. Moose are known to dive underwater, as well, to reach plants on lake bottoms. Their complex snout allows such a feat; it is equipped with fatty pads and muscles that close the nostrils when exposed to water pressure.

Although moose rarely gather in groups, there may be several in close proximity during the mating season (September and October). Females have an eight-month gestation period, usually bearing one calf. Newborn moose have fur with a reddish hue, which is a contrast to the brown appearance of an adult. The young will stay with the mother until just before the next young are born. The life span of an average moose is about 15-25 years.

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Coming Soon: Skunk Kits at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

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Here's a peek behind the scenes at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park: two male Striped Skunk kits were born this summer! The little ones will stay in quarantine for about a month before going out on exhibit, just to make sure they stay healthy during their early development.  

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Photo credits: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park



Found commonly throughout North America, Striped Skunks are born hairless and with closed eyes. They open their eyes at around 22 days old, and nurse for about eight weeks. Young Skunks can spray at just eight days old. The awful-smelling secretion comes from glands under the tail, which are often removed in captivity to de-scent the animal. These omnivores are crepuscular (mostly active at dawn and dusk), and forage for a wide range of food: from plants to insects, eggs, small reptiles, and rodents. Their main predators are Great Horned Owls, which, unsurprisingly, have a very poor sense of smell.



See more photos after the fold.

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Orphan Opossum Finds a Home at Northwest Trek

Baby Opossum Close-up at Northwest Trek

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville, Washington recently welcomed a rescued baby Virginia Opossum. Hand-raised, the tame animal will join the park's Animal Trailside Encounters team, which allows visitors to get up close and personal with local wildlife handled by a trained keeper. 

The Virginia Opossum is the only North American marsupial that lives north of Mexico. When frightened, these animals often pretend to be dead (i.e. playing possum) so curious predators lose interest in them. While this defense mechanism seems to be involuntary, don't be fooled into thinking Virginia Opossums are defenseless: they can also be quite feisty when cornered!

Baby Opossum at Northwest Trek 2

Baby Opossum at Northwest Trek 1

From Tadpole To Frog; Conserving A Vanishing Species

Frog face

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Washington just helped release over 1,200 endangered Oregon spotted frogs into the wild! They reared some of the endangered frogs from tiny tadpoles to full-fledged frogs, giving them a head start on survival. 

The native amphibian has lost ground to habitat loss from draining and development, disease and the introduction of invasive species such as the American bullfrog, and have been decimated by 80-90%. 

Oregon spotted frogs are highly aquatic.They are found in or near permanent still water such as lakes, ponds, springs, marshes and the grassy margins of slow-moving streams.

Before the frogs were released into the wild on October 7, each was weighed and measured at Northwest Trek. The frogs were released in the Dailman Lake area at Fort Lewis. The protected site contains one of the largest relatively intact wetlands remaining in the Puget Lowlands. State biologists will be able to track the Oregon spotted frogs using their ID tags. Their life expectancy in the wild is approximately 5-8 years.

Frog babies


A frog in hand...

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Photo Credit: Northwest Trek Wildlife Park