The Mythical Moose
Not a moose, a racoon.
As crazy as it may sound, I was beginning to wonder if moose were real or just a clever Canadian joke on gullible Americans. Usually, I am not a conspiracy theorist (the American moon landings did happen and there was only one shooter on the grassy knoll), but my suspicion grew from years of never having actually seen a moose. For those of you that have followed our family adventures, you know that we love zoos. We have gone out of our way to visit as many zoos around the world as we can. Mish and I even got married in the San Diego Wild Animal Park (amazing, but true).
However, in all of our travels and years living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (supposed moose country) I have never spied one, wild or captive. Being a science person, I naturally demand evidence of claims, especially if they are as fantastic as a creature like a moose.
Also not a moose, a wolf.
Moose are rumored to be up to 7 feet high at the shoulder and 1,500 pounds in weight! Their antlers can get over 6 feet across. They are solitary creatures that do not form herds, which, I have been told, is why they are very difficult to spot in the wild. You would think that something that big would stand out, seriously.
Still no moose, a beaver.
All my life I have been told stories of the mythical moose of Canada. I have seen many pictures of moose over the years and even stuffed and mounted ones on hunters’ walls as trophies. I have also seen pictures of unicorns, dragons, and Big Foot too. So, pictures don’t necessarily mean indisputable proof. There is a stuffed jack-o-lope and merman on display at the Ye Old Curiosity Shop in Seattle, but I am pretty sure that those are fakes (the mummy there is real though).
I have been repeatedly told by zoological moose experts that keeping moose in captivity is extremely difficult and dangerous. Ok, I have seen polar bears, giraffes, rhinoceros, elephants, lions, and a host of other amazing animals in captivity. How can a single moose be more difficult than any of them? I’ve even seen a platypus (and if any animal rightfully can be accused of being made up it’s a platypus)!
Nope, a bear, not a moose.
So, the thought that maybe moose were really a creature concocted by a few drunken Canadians over a camp fire while enjoying their Molson golden brew and poutine formulated in my paranoid American mind.
I could hear them laughing, “Hey, let’s play a joke on our southern neighbors, hey!”
“What kind of joke, hey?”
“We’ll take Jacque’s old stuffed dear head and sew some carved antlers on it and tell them it’s a giant mutant elk creature, hey”
“That’s a great idea, hey! They’ll come up looking for one and we’ll tell them moose are like Big Foot, hey, and hard to see so keep your eye out, hey!”
“Cool, pass me another Molson, hey.”
Admittedly, I have told our boys that moose are not real. Of course this has caused them some confusion and embarrassment in school. After all, I am probably the only dad that dared question the authenticity of the legendary moose. I was setting an example for them. I was standing by my scientific scrutiny and skepticism. My reasoning was sound. I was sure I was on the verge of finally uncovering the great Canadian hoax, until this weekend.
On a cool drizzly Washington morning, we visited the Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville. There we boarded the caravan to tour the animals in their habitats. I was greatly enjoying the relaxed ride when the tour guide and driver unexpectedly announced, “Up ahead on the left you will see our resident moose males in the clearing.” What?! Moose?! Here?! I sprang up in my seat and anxiously looked out the window.
As we rounded a long curve in the road I beheld four large elk like creatures casually sitting in the grass and quietly defying my belief in their non-existence.
I went into complete sensory overload. My steadfast belief that those prankster Canadians had made up this extraordinary animal was shattered. All I could do was stare in amazement and disbelief. Meanwhile, our son, Elijah, pointed and laughed. He made sure to take lots of pictures of the moose for me. My wife just gave me that knowing smile and didn’t say a word (thankfully).
Now I wonder, maybe Big Foot is real too? Nah!
*I hope that our boys have not been too traumatized by the epic moose controversy. I will try not to talk about my alien conspiracy theories in the future until I have more information too.
** I also hope that my northern neighbors will forgive me doubting their honesty in regards to the whole moose mess thing. Sorry Canada.