Erikas Plucas returned home one day to find an unexpected sight: a baby moose lying alone outside his gate. She couldn’t have been older than two weeks.
Plucas, who lives in Lithuania, told The Dodo, “the first sight of her was heartbreaking.” “She was starved, dirty, and sad, and her fur was infested with flies. She was terrified of me when she first saw me, but she was too weak to run away, or even get up.”
Plucas assumed the baby moose’s mother had been shot by hunters and had fled in search of someone who could assist her. He dragged the skinny, sick moose inside to see what he could do.
Plucas called some of his friends for advice after contacting animal services, but everyone told him to stay out of it.
Plucas stated, “I was met with hostility and contempt.” “All I heard was, ‘It is illegal, you should not do it, let nature take care of it.'”
He, however, refused to listen to them. He knew he had to assist her.
While he waited for animal services, he gathered every kind of leaf he could find, got her some milk, and desperately tried to get her to eat. He knew that if she didn’t, she’d die, and he couldn’t let that happen.
When animal control officers arrived the next day, there wasn’t much they could do.
“Because we don’t have a special institution in Lithuania that would take care of wild orphan animals, they called local hunters and asked if they could take her,” Plucas explained. “Because I knew it meant certain death for her, I insisted on keeping the baby, and they agreed.”
Plucas named the little moose Emma, and she was instantly his.
The first few weeks of caring for Emma were undoubtedly difficult. She needed to be fed every four hours and cried every time Plucas tried to go inside – and he slept next to her all the time, sometimes outside and sometimes in his barn, just so she could feel safe.
“She was terrified of everything except me,” Plucas explained.
Plucas began taking Emma for frequent walks in the forest as she grew older, hoping to reintroduce her to the wild. He tried to teach her what was dangerous and what was safe, and he assisted her in finding food so that she could do it on her own one day. Emma was initially terrified of going into the forest, but she loved Plucas and followed him wherever he went, so she did it for him.
Emma grew more at ease going into the forest as she grew older, and she soon began going there on her own. It wasn’t long before she was able to move in full-time. She was prepared.
“I recall those first nights when she didn’t come home,” Plucas recalled. “Oh, I slept so little. But she grew up, and I had to accept that. After all, it was my intention from the start.”
Even though Emma is all grown up and living in the wild, she still visits her father and spends time with him every day. They go swimming together, and he gives her treats as she expresses her gratitude to him for saving her life.
Emma never warmed up to anyone except her father, and it’s clear how much she adores him.
Plucas described her as “gentle and loving.” “She is very cautious when we play, so she would never hurt me.”
Plucas is still concerned that Emma will fall victim to some of the hunters in the area, as her mother most likely did, so he spoke to every hunter he could find and begged them not to harm her.
“I had some hunters over so they could see her as more than just a nice, warm steak with potatoes and vegetables on the table,” Plucas explained. “Some said they’d give up hunting rifles for good, and others said they’d never shoot a moose again.”
Emma is thriving in her new wild home, and thanks to her father, she will hopefully be happy and safe for a long time. She’ll still come home to see him, and soon she might have even more reason to do so: Plucas believes she’s pregnant.
Plucas explained, “I’m her world now, and she’s mine.” “Sometimes I wonder if it was me or if it was the other way around.”