COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is welcoming an orphaned 8-week-old Alaska moose to its Rocky Mountain Wild exhibition on Wednesday.
The baby moose was orphaned at about six days old when its mother was involved in a fatal human to wildlife contact. Moose are generally rare in zoos, and this new arrival comes two months after Cheyenne Mountain Zoo lost a 12-year-old Canada moose named Tahoma.
“We knew we wanted to continue Tahoma’s incredible legacy with another moose, but we didn’t know it would happen this quickly,” said Courtney Rogers, lead animal keeper in Rocky Mountain Wild. “It’s a bittersweet situation, because of course, we wish this young calf could have continued living in the wild. But, since that was not possible, we’re grateful we’ll be able to care for him here. Since Tahoma passed, Rocky Mountain Wild has definitely been missing some ‘moose magic,’ and we’re so excited to help this little boy grow up.”
Two staff members have gone to the Alaska Zoo to meet and bring back the little calf, which has not been named yet.
The young calf likely wouldn't have survived in the wild without his mother, but he did benefit from having his first few days of mother's milk, a spokesperson said. The calf will still be bottle-fed when it arrives to Colorado Springs, and staff have been busy "babyproofing" his new home.
“Tahoma weighed over 1,000 pounds and this little guy only weighs about 90 pounds, so there are several parts of the exhibit that could have been unsafe for him if we didn’t make changes,” Rogers said. “We hear from his Alaska Zoo keepers that he gets the ‘zoomies’ a lot, and he’s so small that he will likely be able to squeeze through or under some of the moose exhibit fencing, so we’ve been getting the exhibit ready for this young, inexperienced and excitable calf."
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of only eight Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions in the United States to house moose. Visitors will likely be able to see the young calf as soon as he arrives.
"We can’t wait to meet him," Rogers said. "We fully expect this youngster to keep us on our toes with his antics.”