A baby moose created quite the fuss — and some confusion — in Sudbury over the long weekend.
You may have seen a video circulating on Facebook of a newborn calf outside a local Tim Hortons. You also may have heard media reports about a missing orphaned moose that was due to arrive at Wild At Heart Animal Refuge Centre in Lively, but never showed up.
Truth is, the Timmies moose and the missing orphaned moose are one in the same creature.
"It was all a big misunderstanding," said Stephane Desgroseillers.
Desgroseillers is the man from the video who can be seen taking the calf out of his truck as onlookers at Tim Hortons gather and some pet the fragile animal.
Desgroseillers said it was never his intention to keep the animal. But there was a lot of confusion about its fate.
"I didn't take her out for popularity or fame or anything," he told NorthernLife.ca.
Desgroseillers says he got the calf from friends who spotted it on the side of the road near Dowling on Sunday.
Afraid the calf would get hit lying as it was by the highway, the couple put the tiny moose in their side-by-side ATV, then called the Wild At Heart Animal Refuge Centre, who told the couple to return the moose to where they found it in hopes the mother would return for her calf.
"That's when they called me," Desgroseillers said. "We waited until 10:30, but the little calf kept following us and wanted to go on the road. She was all wet and still had her umbilical cord."
But the mother did not return, so the group decided to call Wild At Heart and were told to bring the calf to the refuge centre.
Since his friends were on their quad, Desgroseillers offered to drive it into the city. However, he mistakenly brought the calf to the Walden Animal Hospital in Lively, instead of Wild At Heart.
"That's how all this confusion about the moose going missing came out," Desgroseillers said. "I didn't know my friend was talking to Wild At Heart. I was trying to call the Walden Animal Hospital, but there was no answer."
With few options that he could see, Desgroseillers decided to take the calf home with him.
Meanwhile, Const. Bert Lapalme of the Greater Sudbury Police Service said police received a call about someone having a moose calf in the cab of their truck.
Desgroseillers said officers pulled him over on Lorne Street.
"They pulled me over and said 'We heard that you're bringing that baby moose for slaughter and you're going to eat her,' " he said.
Desgroseillers explained to police all that had transpired that evening, and officers also tried calling the Walden Animal Hospital, but were unable to reach anyone.
"They said, 'Steph, you've got a pet until you find somewhere to bring her,' " Desgroseillers said. "So, I brought her home."
Desgroseillers spent the night trying to comfort the newborn, who he nicknamed Ranger, and fed the calf whole milk that he got from a farmer friend.
"If I would walk away, she would start whining so I had to put her in bed with me," Desgroseillers said. "Everytime she woke up, she would nudge my face and lick me."
The next morning, Desgroseillers texted his friend who found the calf and told him he was unable to contact the animal hospital. That's when he realized he was supposed to contact Wild At Heart not the Walden Animal Hospital.
Meanwhile, employees at the Wild At Heart were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newborn moose. The refuge centre was getting calls about a moose calf left orphaned after its mother was killed in a collision on Lorne Street.
"(Callers) said there was a moose calf in someone's truck," Wild At Heart employee Alicia Irwin said. "So we were expecting two moose calves to come in Sunday night. Now, it seems like there was only ever one moose calf."
Irwin said the calf looked in good health when Desgroseillers brought him in Monday morning. It also turns out that Ranger is a male, not a female, as Desgroseillers first thought.
"He looked pretty bright," Irwin said. "We did a couple feedings and he just slept. He was exhausted."
Although the calf seems fine, Irwin said taking the calf out in public at such a young age could be dangerous because newborns are more susceptible to infection. Also, it's important that the calf gets the nutrients from his mother's first milk.
"We fed him colostrum, but we only have a 36-hour window to do that," Irwin said. "We don't know if we got it in time, because we don't know the exact time it was born."
The moose calf will remain at Wild At Heart for at least a year before he is released back into the wild.
As for Desgroseillers, he said he knows that Wild At Heart will take good care of Ranger.
"They know what's best," he said "I just did my best to help."