This story was originally published in the Anchorage Daily News on Nov. 28, 2007.
What do you call a bull moose tangled in Christmas lights and drunk on fermented crab apples, standing glassy-eyed and dizzy in the front yard of a downtown bar?
But seriously, the juiced moose had certainly seen better days than Tuesday, when he became a bewildered tourist attraction, parked in the courtyard of Bernie's Bungalow Lounge as shoppers clicked by with their Nordstrom bags.
"He just has this goofy look on his face, " said Rick Sinnott, a Fish and Game biologist who came to check on him and guessed he'd probably eaten too many crab apples from an old tree in Bernie's yard.
"He's either drunk or in gastric distress."
Even before his crab-apple bender, the downtown moose was something of a seasonal celebrity, making the television news after he spent the weekend clumping along the avenues with his big rack, thrilling the holiday shopping throngs.
But Tuesday was a banner day for moose hijinks. It started when he stopped to nibble the trees in Town Square Park, which had recently been strung with expensive LED Christmas lights. They snagged in his antlers, and he seemed roped to a tree for a while, generating numerous calls to Sinnott's office from passers-by. After some effort, the moose freed himself, but took the light string with him, dragging it through traffic.
Sinnott sees snagged moose all the time — Christmas lights, hammocks, swing sets. Usually the animal will pull itself free, though occasionally, for bad snarls, it will have to be drugged and untangled by biologists. Those tangled moose get tagged.
Buzzwinkle has one such tag, which means he's a repeat offender.
After Town Square Park, the moose squeezed into the courtyard at Bernie's, where he settled in a pile of crab apples and eventually assumed a disoriented stance, staring into space, snorting steam. What was on his moose mind? Was he dreaming of chewing spring buds or sleeping in the tall summer grass? Was he filled with crab-appletini regret? Hard to say.
"He's just been in the same spot since I got here, " said Gina Senior, a bartender at Bernie's. "He's not really doing much except standing there."
You can't do much for a drunk moose except wait for him to sober up, Sinnott said. And he's in a pretty good place — among Bernie's fountains and yard sculptures, behind a hedge, safe from passing traffic.
Even Sinnott couldn't resist the pull of a bad moose one-liner.
"These country moose can't always hold their liquor, " he said.