Atka the moose — orphaned at 6 days old — steps into new life after surgery, zoo says

A moose underwent a partial hoof amputation in Colorado to help fix an infection, the zoo said.

Atka, 2, a moose orphaned at 6 days old in Alaska, had a front left toe amputated, according to a March 28 news release by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Atka was transferred to the zoo in Colorado Springs at 8 weeks old in 2020, zoo officials said.

Shortly after moving to Colorado, zoo officials found “an abscess that had been growing in his front left toe and had become infected and needed treatment,” according to the release.

Although this infection can be fatal for moose of Atka’s age, the team was able to treat it successfully, according to the release.

“The abscess created a hole which his body naturally filled with scar tissue” and resulted in a change in “his toe permanently,” zoo officials said. Atka would limp at times, but after a sensitivity test, the “limp didn’t always indicate he was in pain.”

In 2023, Atka’s limping increased, and the zoo’s veterinary performed hoof X-rays that showed “significant bone degradation,” officials said.

The zoo’s medical staff decided the proper next step would be to remove the “progressively problematic toe,” the release said.

“After being orphaned and developing that infected abscess so young, we have seen him come through tough situations that would likely have been fatal without our support,” Rebecca Zwicker, animal care manager in Rocky Mountain Wild, said in the release. “We’ve helped him along this far, and we’re committed to helping him through this.”

The surgery was a success, and Atka is recovering mostly “in his barn for quiet time,” officials said. The zoo plans to update social media with pictures of Atka during his recovery.

“We are committed to Atka’s recovery and care as he steps into a life with seven toes,” the zoo said in the release.

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