Sarah Lochner and Victoria Hickey were amazed when they witnessed a moose giving birth in a yard in Alaska. Indeed, they couldn’t hide their excitement when the mother began to clean her newborn calf. But that’s when things took an unexpected turn.
The state of Alaska is abundant with wildlife. Among the diverse range of animals that call the territory home are polar bears, killer whales, caribous and moose. With that in mind, Alaskan residents and visitors enjoy endless opportunities to get up close and personal with nature.
Even in Anchorage, Alaska’s most populated city, people and animals live in close proximity. It’s thought that the area is home to around 60 grizzly bears and 250 black bears. However, you’re far more likely to spot a moose than any kind of bear.
During the winter months, up to 1,000 moose roam the Anchorage area, meaning the large animals are a common sight. Yet regardless of how abundant the creatures may be, in 2016 two Anchorage residents had a more intimate experience with a moose than they could have ever imagined.
It all began when Sarah Lochner and Victoria Hickey noticed an adult moose in the yard of an East Anchorage residence. The female was lying down on its side and appeared unable to get up. And it was then that the women realized that the moose in question was about to give birth.
While moose are usually solitary creatures, males and females gather closer together during the mating season. During this time, opposite sexes will call out together to attract one another. And sometimes males will even fight one another to win the female of their choice.
Once pregnant, the moose gestation period lasts around eight months, after which they will usually give birth to a single calf. Usually, the prime time for calving is in May and June. So, the female Lochner and Hickey had come across seemed to be right on target.
Given the extraordinary scenes that were unfolding before the observers, they decided to film the moose giving birth. In their footage, the mother quickly delivers her calf, much to the delight of an onlooking Lochner and Hickey.
The two women coo over the baby moose as they watch it make its first subtle movements. And eventually, the momma moose musters up enough energy to get to her feet and begins attending to her newborn calf on the grass.
The women watch for a few minutes as she starts to lick her baby clean. Then, the footage cuts forward to the point at which the calf is trying to find its feet. And soon enough, its efforts pay off, and it rises onto its hooves, revealing its long legs in the process.
At this point, you may expect the mother and baby to trot off into the sunset together. However, that’s when the plot thickens. As the camera rolls, it becomes clear that the momma moose has birthed another child while she was cleaning off her first born.
You see, twins are not uncommon in moose pregnancies. However, they usually only occur if food has been readily available for the mom. With adequate nutrition, a female can actually boost its likelihood of birthing two babies to over 30 percent.
And it soon emerges that the moose from Lochner and Hickey’s video had been getting a helping hand in the food department. It seems that one of the residents in the neighborhood had been keeping an eye on the expectant mom, even supplying her with the odd edible treat.
Towards the end of the birthing video, a male voice off-camera can be heard explaining, “I noticed this morning that she looked a little ragged, you know? So I gave her an apple and she was real nice about it. She took the apple and then walked away.”
The unknown man also reveals that the momma moose is not a stranger to him. In fact, their bond has been forged over a long period of time. “She’s come back and had calves in this yard every year for the last six years,” he reveals.
So, it seems that the moose is fairly experienced when it comes to motherhood. As a result, she decides to rest for a while as she watches one of her babies take their first shaky steps. She’s in no hurry to flee the scene of their births, either. And the mom is seemingly safe in the knowledge that someone is looking out for her.
Lochner and Hickey’s footage comes to an end while the threesome are still recuperating in the yard. It’s not known what became of them after the camera stopped rolling. However, it’s likely that the calves will have stuck with their mom for quite some time.
Young moose tend to stay with their mothers for just under a year, until the female starts preparing for her next birth. And at that point, the calves will go their own ways, living largely solitary lives until it’s time for them to mate.
So, thanks to Lochner and Hickey’s video, the internet got a rare insight into moose interacting with one another. Needless to say, then, the footage caused quite the stir and has since been viewed close to three million times. What’s more, the video has also attracted a number of comments which marveled at the moose.
Various comments thanked the Anchorage residents for providing the animals a safe haven. “Coming back every year to give birth means she feels safe in your yard which is so very sweet. We need more humans like you that are kind to animals like this,” said one. And hopefully this won’t be the final visit she pays to the man’s property.