SHUBENACADIE – It was a happy early Mother’s Day for a moose and the staff at the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park.
A week before the long-celebrated day, the female moose at the park gave birth to twins.
“It was not unexpected,” said Leighann Hartnett, manager of the park, about the birth.
“It wasn’t planned, but it’s one of those things we know can happen when you put the male and female together,” added Bert Vissers, the outgoing park manager.
It was back in the autumn of 2012 when the bull moose arrived at the park from the Calgary Zoo. Three years later, the park received the female, who had been orphaned as a calf in Newfoundland. It wasn’t long after her arrival that the staff put the pair together in the same pen.
“The male was by himself for a long time, and that’s one of the reasons we put them together,” said Vissers.
With this birth being the new mom’s first, Hartnett said the female was in a bit of distress at the beginning of labour, unsure of what was happening.
“She was pretty anxious but has been great since they were born. She’s been keeping them at the back of the field, but we’ve had positive reaction from the public so far,” said Hartnett.
“We’re not sure yet the sex of the calves – we haven’t had our hands on them yet. Mom’s very protective and it’s dangerous for the staff to be in there.”
When the calves were born, the upper part of the park area was closed to the public for about a week, however the new additions could still be seen. Access has since re-opened up to the barn area while the new mom and her calves adjust.
Hartnett said staff was concerned when the calves first arrived, but only because of their size.
“They were quite small and the mom’s tall, so we were concerned about them being able to reach her to nurse,” she admitted. “But she lifts her leg for them, and brings them in, or lays down. She’s very attentive.”
It’s been about 15 years since a moose calf has been at the park, and Hartnett says having twins is nothing unusual for moose.
Along with the moose calves, the park also saw a bighorn sheep born about a week before.
The park is open 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily until Oct. 15.