Intrepid Muskox Travelled 20,000km on Sea Ice Visits Vancouver Maritime Museum

VMM. Leonard McCann Archives. St. Roch Parks Canada Collection. HNFN_100_06

Today, Friday April 1st, the Vancouver Maritime Museum welcomes a very special and well traveled guest who will be greeting visitors throughout the morning!

Kiviuq, a muskox thought to be from Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic, is going to spend the morning at the museum to highlight the impact climate change is having upon Canada’s Arctic region.

The muskox astonished conservationists and researchers when he was spotted, stranded on a section of ice floe off the coast of Canada’s western arctic, and clearly in some distress. It is thought that he could have travelled over 20,000 kilometres from Nunavut to the Yukon Territory.

Kiviuq was brought to Greater Vancouver for rehabilitation and research purposes and will soon be returned to his homeland. Named after the legendary eternal Inuit wanderer by conservationists, Kiviuq certainly has had his share of adventure! It is thought that his coat and ability to go months without food is all that helped him survive his journey on the ice. Perhaps he was travelling in search of ‘Bare Knuckle Bill’, a similarly intrepid adventurer from the 1944 St. Roch voyage who spent a great deal of time in the arctic wilderness?

It is not uncommon for muskox to become stranded on sea ice. In October last year Alaskan residents were granted permission to harvest muskox that were stranded upon Bearing sea ice. In an interview with CTV, Patrick Jones, assistant state area biologist, discussed this phenomenon. "This occurs every couple of years," Jones said from his office in Bethel. "I think they're heading toward things they can see or smell in the distance," Jones said.

Kiviuq outside the Museum on a trial visit earlier in the week. VMM

Visitors will be able to see Kiviuq in a temporary enclosure outside the Museum on Friday morning from 10:00am - 12:00pm and can learn about muskox and other Arctic animals through exhibits on display. The crew from the St. Roch, the RCMP vessel housed at the Museum, came across muskox during their various voyages and we have a number of photographs from our St. Roch archival collection of these incredible animals.

Did we fool you?

We do have a new Muskox friend at the Museum, but he is here to say and will be displayed behind glass...