I have never seen a moose in the wild. I know that probably surprises you. I’m from Maine and have lived here most of my life so you’d think I’d have had a few encounters, especially since I’m so friendly with the local deer population. I don’t even have to seek the deer out, they come to my house to visit all the time. They’re especially fond of my tulips. They enjoyed them for brunch one fine spring day a few years ago, so for obvious reasons, I haven’t tried to grow them since. I don’t mind. I like deer.
Moose are a little more stand-offish. When they do venture into neighborhoods, it usually makes the evening news and they never look comfortable. They always seem confused as to how all the buildings and people got in the way of their jaunt through the woods. I read Sarah Smiley’s new book for my blog post, R is for a Review of “Got Here As Soon As I Could” by Sarah Smiley, and one of the things she mentions frequently in her short stories is her lack of success with finding a moose in the wild.
But, there are many Mainers who meet moose on the roads. It is enough of an issue where we have signs posted in heavily trafficked areas to watch for “Moose X-ings”. The Maine Department of Transportation even has an entire flyer on collisions with large animals. This is not just to give us that Maine vibe. Moose collisions are real and can be highly dangerous. My Aunt who use to travel the back roads of Maine a lot for her job hit a moose not once, but on two separate occasions. Fortunately, she was okay both times but it is not how you want to meet one in the wild.
If you really want to come to Maine and see a moose, I have a much better idea for you. Plan a visit to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine. It reopened for the season on April 15th. This is not a large zoo so you need to be sure you go with the right expectations. It is a much smaller, more casual experience that highlights local Maine wildlife. They have a lot of educational programs and events as well. While not in the wild, it’s still a fun way to see some of Maine’s amazing animals.
As they indicate on their website, “Many of the animals at the Maine Wildlife Park were brought here because they were injured or orphaned, or because they were human dependent – raised, sometimes illegally, in captivity. The Park serves as a permanent home for wildlife that cannot survive in the Wild. All kinds of animals are here for their protection and healing. And they’re here for you to enjoy and learn more about.”
I went this past Saturday and purchased a photo pass. For one hour, I was able to go around the park with one of the guides and take photographs of some of their animals. All the photographs in this blog post were taken by me during my visit to the Maine Wildlife Park, in Gray, Maine.
It was an amazing experience. I got to pet the moose and feed them some tree branches, have a black bear lick some treats out of my hand, and look an eagle in the eye.
Moose. First up were the moose. They currently have four moose in the park. At our first stop, the moose was a little too far away to get pictures, but at the second enclosure the remaining three moose were happy to get up close since we were by their feeding station. They love to eat the buds and bark off of tree branches, so I held out a few branches while they ate.
Black Bears. Next up were the black bears. One of the black bears was brown. Apparently black bears come in more than black. Who knew! While the park staff have to be careful as to how many treats the bears get, we were able to give them a few snacks. I held out some treats in my hand, being sure to not touch the fenced enclosure, and the bear licked them from my hand. They have super long tongues.
Bald Eagle. After some time with the bears, we headed over to see one of their eagles. This poor little guy fell out of his nest as a baby and broke his wings so he can never fly which is why he’s being taken care of at the Maine Wildlife Park. His wing injury puts him off-balance so he’s not on display for park visitors, as he has too many needs related to his balance issue, but he does participate in a lot of the park’s educational programs.
Mountain Lion. Out last stop on the photo tour was to see the mountain lion. Sadly, the eastern mountain lion is now extinct with the last sighting in Maine in 1938 according to this press release from the Center for Biological Diversity. The Mountain Lion Foundation has more details on mountain lions such as the fact that they are also known as cougars, pumas, or panthers, and that they can still be found in some western states and a small population in Florida. My guide for the photo shoot also indicated many of them come from western Canada.
Canada Lynx. While that was all the time we had for my photo pass, I did stop by the Canada lynx exhibit for a few photos before leaving the park. The lynx recently got a new enclosure at the Maine Wildlife Park and there is now a glass viewing area so you can really see them up close.
The park is funded by admission tickets, photo passes and a large volunteer network called the Friends of the Maine Wildlife Park.
I had an amazing day at the Maine Wildlife Park. It is a wonderful, family friendly place to spend the day and you get to learn a little something about Maine wildlife in the process. They have a full line-up of events planned for the summer. You can check out the event listings HERE. If you’re ever up in Maine, I highly recommend a visit to the Maine Wildlife Park.
|things to know|
|Maine Wildlife Park||56 Game Farm Road, Gray, Maine 04039|
|Hours||Open daily 9:30 am – 3:30 p.m. Visitors may stay until 5:00 p.m.
Seasonal – Opens April 15, 2016
|Website||Maine Wildlife Park|
|Favorite ♥||Moose. Although, it’s hard to pick; all the animals are amazing.|
I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2016. I will be posting new content every day except Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Life in Maine, and each post will in some way relate to Maine. There are over 1500 other bloggers participating in the challenge. Click HERE to learn more.