A young moose that won the hearts and minds of people across the state when she made fast friends with a German shepherd last year has died.
The Maine Wildlife Park said Thursday morning that the 1-year-old moose, named Maggie, was found dead on Tuesday morning in her enclosure. A necropsy indicated she died from a brain aneurysm.
“With very heavy hearts, we sadly share news of the loss of our young moose ‘Maggie,’” the park said in a Facebook post.
“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. 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,” the Facebook post read.
In June 2018, a days-old Maggie made headlines when she befriended a Wallagrass couple’s German shepherd at Eagle Lake in Aroostook County. Shannon Lugdon, whose family owns and operates Lugdon Lodge, an adventure camp on Eagle Lake, spotted a moose calf on her property on June 2 and named her Maggie.
On the advice of game wardens, Ludgon left the moose calf alone that day. When she went out to look for the moose the following day, Lugdon could not find her — but her dog, a 5-year-old German shepherd named Leo, had no trouble finding her.
“I let Leo out to do his business and he walked right over and Miss Maggie and Leo became fast friends,” Lugdon said at the time. “You can’t imagine how affectionate she was.”
In an interview Thursday evening, Ludgon, who was saddened at the news of Maggie’s death, said she was initially apprehensive when she saw Leo approach the moose and thought he might hurt Maggie, a wild animal after all, but she soon saw “he had no interest in hurting her.”
“They bonded really fast,” she said.
Maggie was likely only a day old when Ludgon first spotted the wayward moose calf. But she said she never saw a mother moose. What happened to Maggie’s mother remains a mystery.
Ludgon said she recalls no signs of a moose that died in the area from a car collision. A possible scenario was that Maggie’s mother, in a weakened state after giving birth during a stretch of hot weather, fell victim to a predator, leaving the moose calf orphaned. But even that is uncertain.
A wildlife biologist later picked up Maggie and brought her to Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. Given that Maggie showed little fear of humans or dogs, Ludgon said that was in her best interest to go to the wildlife park. Had she stayed in the wild, Maggie could have been an easy target for hunters or predators.
Ludgon said she and her family visited Maggie at the wildlife park, adding that she was “thrilled” with the care the moose received there. The park’s staff, she said, “adored” Maggie.
For some, the viral video of Maggie’s affectionate encounter with Leo the German shepherd struck a chord at a particularly divisive time in American history. Two animals — one wild, one domesticated — striking up such an unusual friendship seemed to offer a lesson for people everywhere.
“Even with people who look like us, we can’t get along, but here’s a dog and moose hanging out. There’s a lesson there, I suppose,” Ludgon said.