Maggie at three weeks old, when she first arrived at the Maine Wildlife Park. File photo

GRAY — The Maine Wildlife Park has received condolences from around the country for the loss of a moose who won fame and hearts over the past year.

Maggie “was really special,” Park Superintendent Curt Johnson said in an interview July 22. “She was just recognized by so many people.”

The yearling was found dead in her enclosure by park staff on July 16, and a necropsy indicated that she died from a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Maggie arrived at the park last June when she was just 3 weeks old and weighed only 25 pounds. She was discovered by a family in their backyard in the Aroostook County town of Wallagrass and a video of her playing with the family’s dog quickly went viral. She became a sensation at the park, drawing a record number of visitors.

We can’t speculate as to the cause of that aneurysm because the causes can be so diverse,” Johnson said. “You’re wasting your time. It’s just speculation.” 

He explained that with over 100 animals at the park, “these things just happen. You just have those cases where something just dies suddenly. It’s really hard to swallow.”

Maggie the moose died last week at 1 year old. File photo

Normally, a moose could expect to live 10 years in captivity. Maggie’s first birthday was in May.

Johnson said Maggie’s death is especially difficult because of her fame. “Maggie achieved a level of popularity that’s just unmatched in any of our other animals here. She just captured people’s hearts.” 

Of course, Johnson added, sudden death happens all the time for animals, whether in the wild or captivity.

“It is a teachable moment in that these things do happen to animals, and it happens all the time, and people just usually don’t have to witness it. We’re usually so removed from it.”

Since so many visitors became emotionally connected to Maggie, he said, that made her death very difficult for people to deal with.

The park’s post on its Facebook page announcing Maggie’s death received 392 comments and 508 shares by July 23.

“So sorry for the loss of this beautiful creature,” wrote one woman.

“Everyone was blessed to have her and she was shown much love in the time she was at the park,” added another commenter.

Maggie will be buried on site in the park’s cemetery, and Johnson said workers will install a sign explaining to visitors what happened to her.

The park has two other moose, a bull and a cow. A third moose named George died in February at age 15.

These kinds of things happen,” Johnson said. “It’s just hard when it’s right under your nose and everyone sees it.”

“The staff at the Maine Wildlife Park are devastated by the loss, recognizing that Maggie was more than just a moose to us and her thousands of fans from all over the world,” the park wrote in its Facebook post. “From the viral video of her playing with a German shepherd to her being viewed by a record-breaking number of park visitors last year, Maggie bridged two worlds. She served as a link between her species and our own by capturing the hearts of people everywhere. She will be greatly missed by us all.” 


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