If you've missed the wildlife in Maine this winter, don't despair; come Monday April 15th, the Wildlife Park in Gray is open for season. The park features moose, wild cats, foxes, birds, and more - 30 species and over 100 animals in total, all of whom are unable to live in the wild for one reason or another.

The opening of the Maine Wildlife Park is bittersweet this year, as their oldest and much beloved moose George didn't make it through the winter. Park Superintendent Curt Johnson told The Press Herald how impressive George's longevity really was:

At 15 years old, George was “not only is that the oldest moose that we’ve ever had, even nationally and globally, we don’t know of any other 15-year-old moose in captivity,” Johnson said.

Decades ago, you'd find a fair amount of concrete and chain link fencing in the park, as was normal in zoos around the country, Now, the park has made naturalizing the animals' enclosures top priority, often involving live trees, hollowed-out logs, caves, and rocky terrain to allow the animals to lead a more wild life than their predecessors.

The Maine Wildlife Park isn't full of exotic animals; they've got critters you're likely to have seen if you've lived in the state for long enough and ventured into the woods a couple hundred times. But that means that tourists flock to the park to gain easy access to moose spotting, an activity that may or may not happen if left to fate during a visit. Maggie, the park's youngest moose, became YouTube famous last year when she became friends with a German shepherd at the young age of a few days old. In the coming years, she'll continue George's legacy as parents who visited George as teens bring their own kids back to befriend Maggie.

After April 15, the park is open daily from 9:30am-4:30pm; visitors may stay until 6:00pm.