About the Minnesota Moose

Moose Highlights

What Makes aMinnesota Moose?

Pictograph on a rock surface shows a human, a bull moose with antlers and a smaller, four-legged animal with a tail.

Moose are Northwoods icons

You may have visited Moose Lake State Park. Perhaps you’re familiar with the annual Moose Madness Festival in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Maybe you remember the former Minnesota Moose professional hockey team. Moose are a centerpiece in Minnesota’s “up north” identity. But the importance of moose in Minnesota pre-dates European settlement. Native people have used moose meat for food, furs for warmth, bones for tools, and other body parts for ceremonies. As long as people have lived here, moose have been a significant part of our state’s culture.

A moose eats leaves and twigs from a tree.

They have a huge appetite

Moose are the largest member of the deer family, with an appetite to match their size! Most active at dawn and dusk, moose search for food when temperatures are comfortable. They’ll feed for about eight hours a day in summer, gobbling 30 – 40 pounds of new shoots and leaves from shrubs, trees and water plants. In winter, when leaves aren’t available, moose nibble on twigs. Just like cows, moose have four-chambered stomachs, so they spend a great deal of time chewing and re-chewing their food.

A bull moose with large antlers walks through tall grass as snowflakes fall.

They’re perfectly adapted to frigid winters

Moose live only in cold, snowy regions across the top of the world—making northern Minnesota a nice place to be in winter.

Illustration of a bull moose set against a background of green plants.

Moose Anatomy

How do Moose Survive?

A profile view of an adult moose with antlers.

1. Amazing Antlers

Only males grow antlers—a new 50 to 80 pound set each spring. Antlers develop over four to five months which makes them one of the fastest growing animal organs. After mating season in the fall, antlers drop off to conserve energy for winter.

2. Multi-purpose Snout

A very strong sense of smell helps moose find food and avoid predators. The giant snout also holds a special shutoff valve that allows a moose to feed underwater without flooding its nose.

3. Thick Coat and Body

A thick coat of hollow hair traps an insulating layer of air next to the body. Under the coat, a healthy moose has a layer of fat to help survive winter’s lean months.

4. Long Legs

Lanky and tall, a moose’s legs help them move their heavy bodies through deep snow, over fallen trees and across wetlands.

Managing a Complex Ecosystem

Who Are the Key Ecosystem Players?

  • Illustration of a bull moose.

    Moose have particular habitat needs that are becoming increasingly difficult to achieve in Minnesota. Additionally, they are exposed to a range of parasites and disease. Toss predators into the mix and survival is tough for moose! How do these factors come together to impact Minnesota’s moose population?

    Moose Learn More
  • Illustration of a gray wolf.

    Gray wolves are a major predator of moose—so more wolves means fewer moose, right? The relationship isn’t quite that simple. Wolves tend to hunt the youngest, oldest and sickest moose. In one Minnesota study, nearly half of the moose killed by wolves had other health issues.

    Wolf Learn More
  •  Illustration of a white-tailed deer.

    Minnesota’s white-tailed deer population has increased in moose range, likely due to milder winters. Where there are more deer, there’s higher moose mortality. Deer not only attract predators like wolves, but they also bring parasites and disease that can be deadly to moose.

    Deer Learn More

Moose Care at the Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoo has a long history with moose care dating back to 1977. Since that time, 40 moose have lived along the Zoo’s Northern Trail. The current moose came to the Zoo as orphaned calves in the spring of 2014. They frequently hang out in the shade at the back of their habitat and are most active when it's cooler. Each moose is involved in a voluntary training program to help with their own health care. They are trained to shift stalls, step onto a scale, and hold still for a vet exam, blood draw or injection. If you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of a training session when you visit the Zoo!

A moose calf stands in a stall at the Minnesota Zoo.
A moose with antlers covered in velvet moves through water up to its neck.