During a series of military exercises in the forests of Estonia, one soldier was called to aid a large furry creature in the midst of a legitimate life-and-death situation.
Erich Jyri Prikko is a conscription member of the Estonian defence force. He was recently stationed with a unit near the shores of Lake Võrtsjärv. Last week, Erich decided to venture into the woods in search of (what he describes as) an “alternative bathroom”.
From there, he spotted something that caught his attention immediately.
“I heard some funny voices that reminded me a cat or a small baby. I noticed some kind of a cute animal walking towards me. At first, he reminded me a dog, but pretty quickly I realized it was a small baby moose trying to tell me something.”
The moose calf was all alone in the forest. Prikko didn’t want to distress the animal so he decided to sit down to encourage the moose to wander back towards his mother (wherever she was). But Erich never expected what happened next.
The moose calf sat down by his side.
Prikko said that the moose walked cautiously over towards him.
“He was quite shy at first, but he finally decided that I seemed to be trustworthy and came very close to me.”
Erich was taken aback by the whole encounter. But it wasn’t over just yet – the moose calf went a step further.
“He even tried to find something under my armpit,” Erich stated. “He might have thought that I have mammary glands.” It appeared that the baby moose wanted the soldier to act as his mother.
How would Erich Prikko help the moose calf in the long term?
Obviously, Erich could not fulfil the duties of a mother moose, but the hungry calf seemed comforted by his gentle presence nevertheless. Erich knew he had to help, so did his bit in another way.
“I called our veterinary office and let them know what happened,” Erich said. ” I wanted to do more for the small calf and wanted to ask what should I do.”
Prikko was told to return the calf to where he found it and monitor the situation. Because of Erich’s report, a vet was dispatched immediately to the scene with a milk bottle to feed the moose in case his mother didn’t return. Erich found it difficult leaving the calf in the forest alone but it all paid off.
Erich and his unit did their best not to disturb the area so the mother wouldn’t be spooked away. Sure enough, after hearing a moose call in the night, Prikko awoke to find that the moose calf had gone.
“We noticed very fresh big moose footprints that indicated that the small calf had been rescued by his mother,”
Erich Prikko considers it part of his active duty as a soldier to protect animals as well as humans. In this scenario, he certainly did that.
“I wanted the calf’s mother to find him and I was very satisfied when we found out that they really found each other.”
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