It's probably the last thing anyone expected to see last Sunday on their way into a hospital in Alaska's largest city: a moose standing in the hallway.
No, not a stuffed or mounted moose. This particular moose was a live ungulate on the move.
We've theorized the moose became bored with bushes it had been dining on and moseyed toward the Subway sandwich just one floor below at Anchorage's Providence Alaska Medical Center. Alaska Dispatch writer Craig Medred doubts this theory and suspects it's more likely the moose drifted through the hospital doors while in the middle of a dining binge, chomping on nearby bushes, following the architecture of the building until, voila -- it had made its way inside.
It's a first for the hospital, said Ginger Houghton, a community relations specialist at Providence. From time to time, moose do show up inside the parking garage, but never before had she heard of one making its way inside the building.
And this particular moose broke another record: Before its weekend adventure came to an end, it had managed to saunter all the way up to the third floor of the parking garage of the hospital.
Because angry, agitated moose can be dangerous, this problem moose quickly garnered its own private security force akin to a presidential Secret Service detail. Hospital security staff was diverted to keep eyes on the moose and people away.
Even so, "the moose was never a nuisance," said Houghton, adding that the hospital complex frequently has moose on its campus.
By Monday evening the moose was back to munching on plants on the ground level and out of the parking garage, although it lingered nearby the hospital. It could be seen hanging out, fairly relaxed, on the other side of the retaining wall bordering the garage near the car exit.
Moose comes by for a checkup
But on Saturday, the moose was inside a small outdoor courtyard on the first floor, adjacent to the doors leading into the hospital from the parking garage. By early in the afternoon Sunday, the moose had made it past two sets of inside doors and was standing in a hallway, attended to by security guards and a shifting gaggle of onlookers -- some delighted, others worried someone or the moose would get hurt.
It's thought the moose triggered an automatic set of doors that detects approaching pedestrians. Once the doors opened, it walked right into the building.
The hospital is quick to point out that the moose made it through some but not all of the various security doors, adding that it was never actually inside the main hallway. Three sets of double doors separate the main hospital from the parking garage on the first level, and the moose never made it through the third set, instead getting caught in a foyer area.
Security staff disabled the automatic doors so it wouldn't happen again, shooing the moose back through the middle doors, and eventually out the first set of doors and back into the parking garage. Signs were posted at hospital entrances warning of a moose in the area.
In the days that followed, the moose was spotted eating bushes on the second floor of the parking garage and hanging out by the doors on the third floor.
Houghton estimates the moose was physically inside the parking garage for about three days, and said it has since made its way back to ground level safe and unharmed. And as long as the moose and onlookers continue to get along, that's how things will stay.