Moose are animals of the wild, and they can become aggressive when feeling threatened. For young moose calves who are totally reliant on their mothers, dangers will probably happen when their mother is not around? But sometimes, these animals get lucky and someone special comes around…
Erikas Plucas lives a quiet life on a beautiful, tranquil farm in the countryside of Lithuania. He dislikes the hustle and bustle of city life. He was content with his lifestyle on the farm until one day an uninvited guest visited his home.
It was a normal day, and when Plucas returned to his home, he noticed something strange. A young moose was lying down near the entrance of his house! In the surrounding area, there indeed lives a significant moose population. However, Plucas's instinct told him that something was wrong. Cautiously, he approached the creature.
As Plucas approached, he suddenly realized that the mother was probably nearby. He knew that the mother can fight violently when her baby is perceived to be in danger. So Plucas looked around to retrieve the mother but find nothing. The baby moose was by itself.
Even though Plucas was unfamiliar with moose, he could tell the animal was very young. He estimated that baby moose was around two weeks old or even less. The calf looked distressful, and from that alone, Plucas made out the nature of the events.
It was highly likely that the mother moose was killed by a hunter and the calf escaped in fear. Somehow, the poor moose ended up on Plucas's house may be because it was exhausted from running. Plucas also noticed that the baby moose was injured. He said in an interview with The Dodo, "The first sight of her was heartbreaking."
Now that the calf was all alone, hurt, scared, and vulnerable, Plucas made the bold decision to look after the moose. The animal was neither fine nor hygienic, but nothing would stop Plucas from trusting the instinct that told him to rescue the moose. "She was starved, dirty, sad, and her fur was infested with flies," Plucas elaborated.
He acted quickly and scooped up the calf to take her home. He had no time to think over what he was doing. Plucas behaved only using his intuition and heart so the decision was made on the spot. For now, he just wanted to keep the baby moose safe.
Plucas was not sure what should do next. He contacted some of his friends to ask for their opinion, and they just did not support his decision to raise the animal. "It is illegal, you should not do it. Let nature take care of it," one of his friends told him. While he had not been expecting negative responses, there were other things he had to take care of.
He called animal services up, but they told him that they could not send over professionals to the area until the next day. It meant that Plucas had to be in charge of the young moose for the meantime. The responsibility terrified him.
He had no idea where to even begin, but he believed that it would not hurt to gather food for the calf. Plucas prepared milk and leaves for the calf to eat and made a makeshift habitat for the baby moose to rest. However, he could never have anticipated what came next.
Plucas awaited Animal Services to arrive the following day and take the moose out of his hands. He was ready to hand over the moose to someone who knows how to take care of her. But more unexpected things happened. Animal Services told him that they could do nothing for the moose. The advice they gave him was much worse than that news.
In fact, Animal Services advised Plucas to get in touch with the local hunters so that they could handle the calf! With no feel, Plucas knew what they were implying. He was afraid that the poor baby moose might go to the very people who killed her mother in the first place.
Plucas also knew that it was illegal for him to keep the baby moose, but handing her to the hunters sounded even worse. He could anticipate the cruel fate that awaited animals when they are given to hunters. Plucas did not want the poor moose to go through the same thing it did. But could the moose be growing on the farm with Plucas?
Trying to argue with Animal Services was difficult, but Plucas wanted the baby moose to receive the best care possible. After fighting for the moose calf, Plucas was given the go signal to keep the animal. Originally, he only wanted to tend to the moose until she is in good health, but things did not develop as he plans.
Nursing the baby moose was only the beginning and soon Plucas felt a sense of paternal love for the animal. He thought that it was time to give her a name so she was named "Emma". Picking a name was pretty easy compared to the challenges involved in looking after her and making sure that she was comfortable.
Soon Emma began to feel comfortable around her newfound father. In addition to safety, she felt a deep bond with Plucas as well. Every time he stepped outside the house, Emma would cry, wanting him to stay. Similarly, Plucas missed her whenever she was not around.
Whenever the young moose was away from Plucas, she simply felt vulnerable. "She was afraid of everything but me," Plucas explained. To remedy this, Plucas figured out a plan that was not exactly conventional.
He began sleeping with the moose in the barn instead of leaving her by herself. Sometimes he even stayed with the animal out in the open so that she will feel safe. However, he knew in heart that it was high time that the moose adjusts to the environment. This was where his plan came in.
The traumatic event Emma experienced in the forest was probably the reason why she found it hard to return there. Knowing that she would be back to her actual habitat someday, Plucas was committed to making her feel safe and secure there. When the two first entered the local woods together, Emma was nothing short of terrified.
As he continued to take her through the woods, Emma was eventually able to relax in the environment. Plucas tried to demonstrate to her what was safe and what was not. Soon, she was at ease and began to enjoy herself. He even taught her how to look for food. Finally, she began to act more like any regular moose.
When Plucas reintroduced her to the forest, Emma was finally feeling confident and easy enough to go without him. Her renewed confidence and Plucas's support gave her the courage to explore the surroundings. However, her explorations would end up with something more than a simple adventure.
Emma started venturing off into the forest for hours on end, only coming back when it was already dark. However, on one particular evening, things were different. As the day fell into night, Emma still had not yet returned. Plucas began to worry. Could she have gotten lost, attacked, or hunted down?
She was already fully-grown, so Plucas believed that Emma could handle herself by then. However, this knowledge could not ease his anxiety. He recounted that period in vivid detail, "I remember those first nights she didn't come home… Oh, I barely slept. But she grew up, I had to get over it. After all, it was my goal from the very beginning."
As Plucas was digesting the sad fact that Emma would be never back, she returned which surprised him. It was not a one-off coincidence! She showed up at the home of her savior every single day. He could see that she was no longer a baby moose. She had been ready to fend for herself. Whenever she dropped by, Plucas treasured those priceless moments.
Plucas and Emma shared a solid bond. Whenever she dropped by to visit him at the farm, he would play or swim together with her. He always had snacks ready for Emma. It was safe to say that they were best friends, and nothing could ever affect their friendship.
Plucas's friends were confused by the relationship between him and the moose. But Plucas tried not to let their views affect him. He told The Dodo in an interview this: "To me, she is gentle and loving. She is very careful when we are playing, so she would not hurt me."
Emma might be a fully-grown moose now, but she was still perpetually in danger as adult moose were a favorite amongst hunters. This fact bothered Plucas a lot. With an instinct to protect Emma from the local hunters, Plucas devised another plan.
Plucas got in touch with the local hunters and asked them to join him at his farm, so that they could see Emma. He had no idea how the meeting would turn out or what Emma would react, but he wanted to try everything that would help. "I had some hunters over for them to see her as not just a nice, warm steak with potatoes and vegetables on the table, but as a very intelligent and loving animal," he said.
Since he had only one image of the hunters the entire time, Plucas did not know what to expect. However, their response was a complete surprise to him! Learning about the trauma she endured as a calf, they all promised that they would not hunt her down once they saw her. However, the surprise did not end there.
Some of the hunters were so moved by the extraordinary bond between Plucas and Emma that they promised they would entirely stop hunting moose. That is quite a heartwarming initiative, don't you think? Still, there were more surprises in store for them.
During one of Emma's visits to his home, Plucas felt that there was something different about her. She looked somewhat bigger than she normally was. It did not take long before he figured out the reason: Emma was pregnant!
Plucas felt completely overwhelmed by the realization. He saved her life when she was a newborn and now she was going to have a calf of her own! He also reflected on the affection and joy she had brought him. "I'm her world now and she is mine. Sometimes I wonder: was it me who saved her, or is it the other way around?" Plucas lamented.
In addition to learning about the importance of wildlife rehabilitation, Plucas was also happy that he had the chance to save a life. He received a lot of attention for his kind act. He said in one post, "I didn't expect this story to become so popular. I am sure that any of us with a little bit of a conscience about our existence, with a love for nature and animals would do the same."