Kostroma is a city on the Golden Ring of Russia’s famous travel route. The Volga River flows through the city. The mighty river is shining with beautiful merchant houses, magnificent trade promenades and onion-topped churches. And my travel destination is hidden in the dense forest 25 kilometers east of the city-Sumarokovo Moose Farm, established in 1963, is home to the world’s largest deer animal.
We drove towards the forest early in the morning, and the staff member Alexander was already waiting at the gate of the farm. “You arrived at the right time. In the afternoon, the moose will hide in the woods and hide in the shadow of the woods. This protected area covers 36,000 hectares. Even I may not be able to find them. But now, we can go and feed the deer. Order something to eat.” He carried a big bag of carrot slices and briskly led us to the area where the moose lived, introducing the origin of raising moose while walking.
The Soviet Union, a country that no longer exists, has conducted various experiments comparable to science fiction, and raising moose is one of them.
This behemoth with a strong body, thick fur, and slightly raised shoulders like a hump is widely distributed in temperate and subarctic forest regions from Northern Europe, Russia to North America. They are hardy, run fast, and are good at swimming. Because of their huge size, long and powerful limbs and wide antlers, they have few natural enemies in nature.
In the 1930s, the Soviet Union had the ambition to conquer the world. Before the war with Finland started, they began to train moose secretly. The soldiers tried to ride on a moose that was 2 meters high and weighed nearly half a ton, and stepped across the thick snow-covered land to conquer the cold Scandinavia.
The Soviets succeeded in half—moose’s natural relatives, and it’s not too difficult for heavily armed soldiers to ride them. However, the moose were not as stupid as they seemed. Whenever dangerous guns sounded, the moose did start to charge, but they rushed into the surrounding woods and hid in an instant. Thus, the Soviet experiment with the moose army failed.
When I walked into the farm, a few one or two-year-old young moose were awkwardly sticking their heads from under the eaves, with their furry ears erected, and large, round eyes with long eyelashes, waiting for the carrot in my hand. They are not afraid of people at all. I caress my head, shoulders and neck, and the fur runs between my fingers. The smooth, thick hand feels really good.
Lu Xiaolu feels softer and more intimate. These little guys are happy to be touched and hugged. The staff will feed them regularly, and when the deer are one year old, they can live freely in the forest. There are many photos taken by Alexander on display in the farm. The children who came to visit happily lie with the moose. The deer sticks out their tongues and licks human cheeks intimately-it is hard to imagine that they will become weapons of war.
Although the experiments of the moose army were unsuccessful, the Soviet Union did not give up raising moose. After World War II, the moose became part of the Soviet Union’s plan to conquer nature, at least the taiga. People use this huge animal as a means of transporting goods in winter, hauling sledges, and a provider of meat products, and successfully milking female deer.
The fat and protein content of moose milk is much higher than that of milk, but the lactose content is less than half of that of milk. It is not only suitable for people with lactose intolerance, but is also said to be effective in curing various diseases of the stomach.
The Soviet Union did many medical experiments with moose milk and tried to develop the moose dairy industry. This moose farm in Kostroma was also built for this reason. But raising moose is not easy at all. A moose usually eats 150 different kinds of leaves, berries, and fresh branches, and they like to walk alone, each one needs a lot of space; although moose usually do not attack humans , But once irritated them, the damage will be very serious.
The plan to raise reindeer on a large scale was too complicated, dangerous, and expensive, and it was never really realized. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it came to an end. However, the moose farm in Kostroma has survived as a protected area and scientific research base. In addition to receiving tourists, it also supplies moose milk to nearby nursing homes. By imitating the smell and sound of the fawn, the female deer is regarded as a child, and the moose milk is obtained regularly.
It’s a pity that we didn’t have the chance to see a stag with a larger body and multiple horns. They are more free and unlinked creatures. They will not respond to calls as adults and hardly appear in the sight of visitors.