Cuteness alert: Yukon Wildlife Preserve home to a new generation of baby animals

Prepare yourself: the Yukon Wildlife Preserve is home to a whole new batch of tiny residents.

Prepare yourself: the Yukon Wildlife Preserve is home to a whole new batch of tiny residents.

After a successful breeding season, baby bison, elk and mule deer all now call the preserve home. That’s on top of the rescued infant moose that arrived earlier this summer.

It’s the first time the preserve has had baby elk since 2009, said curator and staff veterinarian Maria Hallock.

Staff do their best to control babies being born on the preserve by keeping males and females separate during the mating season, unless they want the magic to happen.

The elk are getting older, Hallock said, so the preserve decided to expand the herd.

Two cows gave birth this June, one to a male and the other to a female calf.

The male calf had a harder delivery than his half-sister.

It was his mother’s first birth, Hallock said.

“We were watching her for a while and she was walking around with just a leg sticking out of her for a few hours and nothing was happening,” she said.

“She was trying and pushing, and looking close at it we realized the calf was coming breech.”

A breech birth is when a baby comes out backwards. That meant staff had to sedate the cow and pull the calf out.

When the new mom woke up, she didn’t acknowledge her baby.

“She was calling, walking around, looking for something and she had no idea what. She’s never seen (a calf) before,” Hallock said.

“Now there’s this random calf sitting here and she can’t really connect that ‘This is my baby.’”

Staff had no choice but to step in and feed the newborn.

For the best chance of survival, newborns need to drink their mother’s colostrum, a milk produced in late pregnancy that contains antibodies to protect against disease.

While she was sedated, the mother was milked of some of that vital food.

The calf was bottle-fed a mixture of colostrum and artificial formula.

Hallock said they left the calf in the enclosure, hoping his mother would come around.

The next day they got a pleasant surprise. Mother and son were happily united.

“They were sitting together, they both got up, she cleaned him up and started to nurse, which was amazing,” Hallock said.

“That’s very rare. I didn’t think that was going to happen and I was very excited to see that.”

Possibly the most famous baby ungulate currently at the preserve came by her new home in a more unconventional manner.

At only a few weeks old, a baby moose was attacked by dogs in May and got separated from her mother. She was found in the bush by a teenager, who carried the 47-pound moose out and brought her to the preserve.

Jesse — named after her rescuer — was in terrible shape when she arrived. The dogs had gone after her neck.

Swelling from the wounds made it difficult for her to swallow and breathe. Staff stayed with her 24 hours a day.

“For the first couple of nights we weren’t sure if she was going to make it,” Hallock said.

For the first four days at the preserve Jesse couldn’t get up. She was fed using a IV with sugar and ate a small amount of formula whenever she could manage it.

“You could hear her breathing from a different room when she was first here. She was really, really gasping for air.”

Jesse may have been a twin. Normally a mother moose would defend her calf against dogs, Hallock said. If there was a second baby to protect, the mother may have chosen to save the other calf.

Odds are Jesse would not have survived with her mother after those injuries, Hallock said.

“With the injuries she had she would have just suffocated or bled to death. Whatever comes first in this case.”

Jesse is much stronger now. For now she’s living alone in an enclosure away from public eyes. Loud noises, like barking dogs, used to frighten her, Hallock said.

She’s not as fearful anymore and staff are hoping to introduce her to the two other resident moose later this month.

She spends her time eating the leaves off branches and using any human within reach as a scratching post.

Her comfort around humans means she’ll be living at the preserve for the rest of her life.

As the public enjoys the new crop of baby animals, the preserve is already preparing to start breeding for next year’s babies.

Elk, muskoxen, bison, caribou and maybe some mountain goats are among the next generation of animals staff hope to see next year.

By all accounts, the public won’t mind.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Most Read