A young and hungry moose caused a stir when it strolled through the front doors of a Providence Alaska medical facility Thursday afternoon in Anchorage — apparently without an appointment.
In the only-in-Alaska videos posted to social media Thursday, the juvenile moose’s ears peeked from behind a potted plant it was munching on, briefly impervious to the attention it received from bystanders at Providence Health Park.
Patients and staff clustered behind behind a row of wheelchairs in the lobby while a team of security guards and a few members of the public formed a human wall around the moose — which appeared calm and interested solely in the lobby’s foliage — to help safely usher the animal back out the automatic doors it had used to enter the building.
“We got a call from one of our dispatchers that a moose had entered into the facility, and was in our lobby eating our plants,” said Randy Hughes, director of security with Providence. Hughes responded just after 1 p.m. to the scene at the building, which houses the Cancer Center.
It’s not unheard of for moose to walk into Anchorage-area medical facilities. In 2019, a moose wandered into Alaska Regional Hospital, and in 2012, a video of a moose visiting Providence went viral.
This was the first such encounter during Hughes’ seven years employed with Providence, so there wasn’t much precedent for how to respond, Hughes said.
He said that if the moose had been full-grown or had appeared at all aggressive, they would have waited for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to respond and possibly sedate the animal instead of trying to coax it out themselves.
The team tried a variety of tactics to guide the moose out the door, including using a bit of one plant as a lure. That one didn’t work.
“He wasn’t interested once he found the other potted plant,” Hughes said.
After about 15 minutes of gentle encouragement from the building staff, the moose seemed to have gotten its fill of leaves and close proximity to humans.
“He finally had enough of everybody looking at him, and finally made his way out the door,” Hughes said. The watching patients and nurses cheered.
Once outside, the moose walked over toward the oncology side of the building, where it laid down in the snow and settled down for a post-meal nap in the sunshine, Hughes said.
Hughes said the whole encounter made for one of the more fun days he’s had at the office. He said he was thankful that the outcome was so positive, for both the moose and his staff.
”It was definitely exciting,” Hughes said. “The last thing we wanted to do was cause the moose any harm or stress.”