Chance, the 10-month-old muskox who has charmed Yukoners since he arrived at the territory’s wildlife preserve last spring, died suddenly March 31.
“We’re completely devastated — the staff and the board,” said Carolyn Thorne, executive director of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.
“He was an amazing little guy, very sweet, kind and gentle — not so much like a muskox.”
The orphaned animal was found on an ice road near Cambridge Bay 11-months ago by a pilot.
In May, when Chance was just a few weeks old, he was given a second chance and a home at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.
The muskox was put into a pen with a baby caribou named Bou, until they both grew large enough to be integrated into their respective herds.
The two were fast friends — they played together and looked out for each other.
And Chance quickly became the wildlife preserve’s biggest star.
“He was a great ambassador for the preserve,” said Thorne. “So many people came out to see him and people were always asking about him.”
Last week, preserve staff noticed that the usually playful musk ox was lethargic.
“When you go into the pasture he’ll usually run up to you, bat around the hay bales and play with the caribou, but he just wasn’t himself. He was lying down quite a bit and was listless,” said Thorne.
Chance was taken for an X-ray, but nothing turned up.
So staff brought him back to the preserve and kept close watch.
On March 30 he seemed better, but by the next morning he suffered a turn for the worst and died en route to the veterinarian’s office.
Although staff is waiting on tissue tests from a lab in British Columbia to determine the cause of death, a necropsy revealed Chance had a large, discoloured liver.
“He meant a lot of us and he’s definitely going to missed, especially by his companion Bou,” said Thorne.