Potter Park Zoo Welcomes Alaskan Moose as Newest Resident


8-Month Old Orphan to be on Exhibit in 2014 Season

A young Alaskan moose, rescued after her mother was struck by a vehicle in the Anchorage, Alaska area, is the most recent addition to Potter Park Zoo. Her name is Willow, she is approximately eight months old, and is getting comfortable with her new surroundings.

“We’re thrilled to provide Mid-Michigan with the opportunity to learn about an Alaskan moose,” said Sherrie Graham, director of Potter Park Zoo. “This North American native offers zoo guests an up-close and personal look at an animal that is generally isolated and rarely seen by people. Potter Park Zoo is excited to be able to educate guests about this great animal.”

Potter Park Zoo’s Director of Animal Health, Dr. Tara Harrison, traveled to Anchorage to accompany the moose on her trip back to Lansing. The more than 3,800 mile journey proved especially rewarding for Dr. Harrison.

“Traveling with a nearly 200 pound moose brings a whole new meaning to checked baggage,” said Dr. Harrison. “The journey went well and she is getting comfortable at the zoo.” 

Willow, so named for her food preference, will not be on exhibit until her large and extensive enclosure is completed during the 2014 season. In the wild, Alaskan moose eat birch, aspen, and willow with the latter being the most commonly fed in a zoo environment. Zoo staff have been working with county parks, Michigan State University, local tree services, and others to provide a daily source of fresh willow for her. A winter supply of willow leaves were frozen this past fall in a freezer so she can continue to eat willow through the winter.

Alaskan moose are native to Alaska and range into Yukon, Canada. There are believed to be some 225,000 Alaskan moose spanning North America. The moose tend to be solitary animals that can stand up to seven feet tall and weigh more than 1,300 pounds. Alaskan moose generally inhabit dense, isolated forests in order to avoid predators like wolves and hunters, only encountering other moose for mating and courtship. 


Photos courtesy of ShiLessner Photography.