While he continues to stare at me, the moose chews on the birch branches. He is not shy. He sniffs my shoulder and searches for more twigs. Zebbe is one of the two tame moose of Cape Wild in Swedish Lapland. Here you can meet these impressive animals and learn more about them.
Visiting the tame moose Zigge and Zebbe
Lapland is the best place to see moose in the wild. Tens of thousands of these animals live there. Yet you need more than a little luck and a lot of patience to spot the animals. Even hough it is an immense beast, the moose can weigh well over 700 kilos, the moose knows how to move through the forest almost unseen. And now that I am in Swedish Lapland in summer, there is little chance that a moose will cross the road. They have pulled back into the woods. That is why it is extra special that I can visit the tame moose Zigge and Zebbe.
We meet the two tame moose Zigge and Zebbe at Cape Wild in Gäddvik, close to Luleå. From Piteå we drive for about an hour through the woods and we park the car. No trace of the moose. But when the owner Thomas arrives on his quad, there is rustling in the forest. Soon two pairs of moose walk through the trees.
“Zigge and Zebbe are two half-brothers,” Thomas says. They are young moose, yet they weigh about 300 to 400 kilos. “Wait until they are fully grown, then they can easily weigh 600 kilos. They ar not going to grow much larger than they are now, though, but they will be much broader. Do you see their antlers? They drop them every year and then a new antler grows. And every year it gets quite a bit bigger.”
The two moose are tame and were taken to this area when they were young. Despite the fact that the animals have a large piece of land, about 5 hectares, the owner brings extra food every day. Young birch twigs are on today’s menu. We also get a couple of twigs in our hands to feed to the moose.
“If it is very hot like today, they also get a shower. The only thing they really miss in this area is a lake. Moose like to cool off in the water every now and then.” Fortunately, there is a solution. Thomas walks away and comes back with a garden hose. Then Sigge and Sebbe each get a shower. In full satisfaction they stand under the water jet. “You see how fat their fur is, the water flows down.”
Cape Wild in Swedish Lapland
The moose are living in Cape Wild, a wildlife center in the making that will expand even further in the coming months. We see wooden poles in the ground. “I am building a new fence since there will be wild boar next week.” They get an immense area where they can enjoy themselves. “And then there will be a female moose, so hopefully baby moose can be seen next spring.”
We are standing in the fenced living area of the moose, but behind wooden beams. “These two moose wouldn’t hurt a fly”, Thomas says as he points to them, “but they are very curious. And with their weight they can easily push you to the side. That’s why you are standing behind the wooden beams, but you can still touch them. Zebbe comes nearer, with his enormous head. He smells that we still have some young birch leaves and is looking forward to eating them.
“At the beginning of the access road I want to build a number of wooden cabins, so that people can stay here overnight. I also want to build a cabin in the habitat of Zigge and Zebbe.” Thomas shares with us.” A lookout hut on high poles. Two beds in it, and nothing else. Just a view of the moose as soon as you wake up.” It must be fantastic to be able to stay there.
Thomas keeps talking about the moose and the other animals that are going to live in this wildlife center. “The most important thing is that people can see the animals in their own habitat. It should not become a zoo. The animals get all the space they need.”
Snacking on bananas
“Did you know, by the way, that moose love bananas?” Thomas breaks a banana in half and immediately Zebbe stands beside him. He enjoys the banana and searches for a second one.
Zigge has had enough of it. He is resting 20 meters away, between the trees. “You hardly see him anymore, maybe sometimes the antlers come out between the branches. That is why you do not often encounter moose in the wild. No matter how large they are, they are almost invisible. And do you see how long their legs are? They can get good speeds and you can hardly hear them running through the forest.”
So do you want to see moose in Swedish Lapland? Hopefully you will encounter them in the wild, but an encounter with Zigge and Zebbe may be just as special.