A moose is on the loose. Quick, look for his ears popping out from behind the ferns.
A five-month-old moose calf named Birch ambled into Northwest Trek Wildlife Park’s 435-acre Free-Roaming Area Wednesday and will make his public debut this weekend.
Birch arrived in early November from Alaska Zoo and has been adjusting to his new Eatonville home off-exhibit. He recently met his new buddy Aspen, a 5-year-old female moose.
“We’re delighted to welcome another generation of moose and provide a new companion for Aspen,” said zoological curator Marc Heinzman.
Aspen will teach Birch how to be a moose here at Northwest Trek,” said keeper Skylar King. “She will show him where to find the best food, which plants are her favorites to eat, where to get water, and how to interact with the other animals in our Free-Roaming Area.”
As the young moose explores his new home, he will encounter American bison, Roosevelt elk, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, caribou, and trumpeter swans.
“All of these species are native to the Pacific Northwest and often live together in the wild,” said King.
Birch is also bonding with his veterinary and animal care teams, said zoological curator Marc Heinzman.
“He is comfortable around people he trusts, which allows us to provide the best possible care for him,” said Heinzman.
The young calf currently weighs about 295 pounds and is 5 feet tall, with significant room to grow. An adult bull moose can grow to 1,200 pounds and 7.5 feet high. For comparison, full-grown female moose Aspen weighs about 850 pounds.
“It will be a special treat for our guests and keepers to watch Birch grow up,” said King.
Hint: moose love nestling in bracken (a tall fern), so keep an eye out for long ears and a long nose popping out from behind the foliage.
Northwest Trek, accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is a 723-acre zoological park dedicated to conservation, education and recreation by displaying, interpreting and researching native Northwest wildlife and their natural habitats. The wildlife park is a facility of Metro Parks Tacoma and is located 35 miles southeast of Tacoma off State Highway 161.