In a very remote pocket of forest deep into the Rocky Mountain range there lived a family of Moose. They had chosen this remote place to raise their families.
White birch trees, striped maple trees and the trembling aspen trees made up a great portion of their diets. The diet of the moose dictates where the moose lives and this seemed like a great place with its trees, plant life and vast lakes.
The male moose is called a bull and the female moose is called a cow. They loved to spend their days using their tough tongue to help them gather the leaves and shrubs. Their massive teeth make chewing up the tough plants very easy. Below the mountain range there were many lakes where many pond weeds and lilies growing wild. There were also many swampy marshes and places for the moose to swim. The mountain range was perfect for the moose and their hearty appetites.
Pottifer was the male bull and he had chosen Zooza for his mate. It was mating season and you could hear the heavy grunting sounds of the males for miles. The females would answer the males with a wail-like sound. So the mountain range was very active with sounds this time of the year. Pottifer knew Zooza was for him and he would do battle if need be to win her. He was a great warrior moose and had fought many times to win females. This time was no different. Pottifer had a long face and a muzzle that dangled over his chin. A flap of skin known as a bell sway hung beneath his throat. He was a big moose and stood about six feet tall. He weighed over a thousand pounds so food was the most important thing for him. Zooza was not as tall nor did she weigh as much as Pottifer. This was typical for most female moose.
Both Pottifer and Zooza had spent the warmer months eating. They consumed enormous amounts of vegetation each day and they constantly roamed the mountains feeding on trees and plant life.
It was the beginning of September and was the time of the year to start their families. Zooza had to make sure she ate plenty so her babies would be born in good health. She had a craving for pine cones and she would stand for hours munching on them. Moose lack upper front teeth but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw. Zooza had six pairs of molars and, ahead of those, six pairs of premolars, to grind up her food as do all those of the moose.
Pottifer had two big antlers that grew on each side of his enormous head. His ears were slightly behind the forked beams making up the antlers that spread like two huge oak leafs upon his head. They had once been covered with a soft velvet skin but now had become hard like bone. He was very proud of his massive weapons and shook his head often to let others know just how proud he was.
Zooza was called a cow and her babies would be called calves. She kept her brown furry coat cleaned and free of debris.
“Pottifer your coat is simply a disgrace. It is matted up and has all sorts of trash clinging to it. You need to go for a swim and wash up. You are beginning to smell. Even a moose can keep himself neat and clean.” She groaned as her tough tongue wrapped around another bunch of leaves.
“Suppose another group of moose were to wander up here near us. Would you not feel ashamed of yourself?” She questioned.
“Nope I am not one bit ashamed of myself. I’m quite proud of myself in fact. I really don’t care what others think about me. I’m stronger, taller and much bigger than any moose around here. So let them think whatever they want to think.” He protested curling up his lips and showing his gums at Zooza.
“Despicable is what you are Pottifer! Just you wait until spring when all the new young bulls come over here. I will pick the most handsome one and go on a long walk with him.” She mumbled hoping to make Pottifer jealous but it was not working at all. He was well aware that males and females chose many partners in their live time and did not stay with just one. So her words fell on deaf ears.
Pottifer and Zooza roamed the mountains during the cold snowy winter to find food. They used their large hooves to break through the snow and ice to find plants beneath the surface. In the spring, Zooza gave birth to twins. She named the boy Moosa and the girl she named Koosa. Zooza was very protective of her two babies. She kept them with her every moment. Moosa and Koosa had reddish colored fur quite different from either Pottifer or Zooza’s brown fur.
During their first year Zooza taught them what things were good to eat, how to swim and how to run. Before they were a year old they could run up to five miles an hour. They also learned to go under water and hide for up to a minute. She also taught them about their natural enemies. Wolves, large mountain cats and bears were their biggest threat. Humans followed closely behind the wild creatures. The warm sunny days passed quickly and Moosa and Koosa listened carefully to their mother’s instructions always staying close to her.
Winter brought deep snow and the moose had gone down in the valley to feed on water lilies and other aquatic plants when it happened.
A pack of wolves came running down from the mountains. They had picked up the scent of the moose and had decided to attack. Their hopes were to get at least one moose, perhaps a young calf for food. The wolves knew exactly where to bite the moose to cause excessive bleeding and sudden death. The fight was on!
Pottifer used his antlers and his feet to defend him and the others. Zooza kept her nose lifted for fear the wolves would bite it. She had learned that if bitten on the nose, she might become paralyzed and become a victim to the wolves. Pottifer decided to stand his ground. He charged at the wolves lashing out at them with his powerful hooves. Zooza tried to keep herself between the calves and the wolves. As usually happens, the wolves decided to leave Pottifer and team up on Zooza. They tore at her haunches and continued to bite her in the tender parts of her stomach causing massive bleeding. Zooza would give her life to protect her young calves. Pottifer took the children and ran as fast as they could go high up in the snow-covered mountains to safety.
Moosa and Koosa grew quickly and soon left their father to go out on their own. They decided to go down along the highway to lick the salt the humans had spread to melt the snow. It was there they smelled food cooking and followed their nose into the village.
“Maybe we can find some good food around all of these houses.” Koosa said licking the salt from her lips.
“Well if we don’t like what we see at least we know how to run.” Moosa replied being very reluctant of even going down the mountain for the salt.
It wasn’t long before dogs began to bark at the intruders.
“Oh gosh I was hoping for food but it looks like we have alarmed all the dogs in the village!”
“I knew this was a dumb idea!” Moosa screamed. “We need to get our butts out of here and back up into the mountains. People are not good food and you know it. Don’t you remember anything Mom taught us?” He yelled.
Koosa knew this was a terrible mistake and began to run away from the dogs towards the mountains.
“Well we would not have known about the dogs if we had not come down here. Now we know and we can tell the others about it. Sharing information is what we do best don’t you think?” She huffed as she began loping up the mountain side.
“Dumb! You are just a dumb moose. I never should have listened to you to begin with. All you are going to do is get me killed!” Moosa puffed all out of breath from the run.
Life continued as does the ecosystem. All things must eat or be eaten. Koosa decided to feed off the vegetation and enjoy life for many more years on the mountain top. Her ancestors had lived for nearly twenty five years and she was hoping to make a new record. Moosa often stumbled upon his father and his new families. It was now time for him to begin to have a family of his own.
The cycle of life continues daily high in the Rocky Mountains and down in the valleys below where only the strong survive.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Question? What is a baby Moose called?