Moose visit to Anchorage hospital goes viral

PROVIDENCE: Critter makes it to the third floor of the garage

Anchorage Daily NewsFebruary 21, 2012 

A moose wandered around a Providence Alaska Medical Center parking garage Saturday and Sunday (Feb 18-19, 2012).

LESLIE M. BAGLEY / PROVIDENCE ALASKA MEDICAL CENTER

Straight from the wild to your computer screen, a moose that wandered into a local hospital entrance has gone viral.

No, the moose isn't sick and was presumably not seeking medical treatment when it strolled into the garage at Providence Alaska Medical Center on Saturday. Instead, a picture of the unfortunate ungulate taken by a nurse over the weekend -- the moose is seen standing in a hospital entrance, stopped by a security guard -- went viral on Facebook, reposted more than 1,500 times by Tuesday night.

But don't worry: No animals or humans were harmed in the making of this story.

Providence staff members believe the moose wandered into the parking garage sometime Saturday, and nurse Leslie Bagley snapped its photo in a first-floor entrance Sunday morning, said hospital spokeswoman Ginger Houghton. By Monday, the moose was on the third floor of the garage, Houghton said.

"Moose wander in there, because moose wander into random places," Houghton said. "We have moose on our campus frequently, and it is not unusual to see them in our parking garage. But this was the first time a moose had wandered up to the third floor."

Security guards kept tabs on the moose and made sure people did not approach it, lest they be injured, Houghton said. The moose would get a bit agitated when anybody came near, she said.

The hospital staff became more concerned that the moose would continue up the parking garage, Houghton said. The staff decided it was time to take action, she said.

"They very carefully, and quietly, placed cars around the garage to lead it out," Houghton said. "This process took about eight hours."

On Monday, the moose was eventually able to exit on the ground floor, Houghton said.

One of Bagley's fellow nurses, Cheryl Valley, later posted Bagley's photo on Facebook, and the photo was quickly reposted hundreds of times. Houghton told Bagley the picture had gone viral, Houghton said.

"She said, 'What does that mean, 'It's gone viral?' " Houghton said.

The Providence moose isn't the first to wander through the doors of an Anchorage hospital. In the summer of 2005, a moose triggered an automatic door and strolled into the emergency room area of Alaska Regional Hospital before making a U-turn and walking back out. It was captured by a security camera and later, naturally, found its way to YouTube.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

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