Something Swedish

Älg: Moose, Meese, Mooses or Elk?

10 Comments

IMG_8323editWhen people in Sweden talk about “älg” there’s always some debate on whether the animal is an elk or a moose.

The confusion is completely understandable because it kinda means both. But aren’t Moose and Elk different animals? Yes, but the word “älg” isn’t very specific in Swedish (Why would it be? Only one of the animals live in Sweden).  The Swedish word “älg” means “elk” in British English and “moose” in American English. To complicate it further, the American Moose/European Elk/Swedish Älg is scientifically known as Alces.  This is especially confusing because there are Elk (not the British English/European elk), also known as wapiti, in America and Asia.

Note the different types of antlers:

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Images from wikipedia


Oh, and the plural of moose is moose, the plural of elk is elk (not that we are talking about elks here) and the plural of älg is älgar. Now that we have that cleared up…

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Did you know that älg is Sweden’s national animal?

Moose  symbolize something very important in Sweden’s culture: Nature.

It’s also one of those things people associate with Sweden, even if they’ve never been here:

Screen shot 2011-09-09 at 8.38.06 AM chocolate-moose

Moose are superstars in Sweden. It’s impossible to walk into a tourist shop without finding moose key chains, bumper stickers, aprons, shot glasses, stuffed animals, and shirts. If you go to Sweden and you want some sort of souvenir, chances are it will be something moose shaped.

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The huge animals aren’t particularly dangerous (although,  I wouldn’t recommend getting close to one in the wild – they do protect themselves and their young by charging). More than anything though, with such a high population of älg in Sweden, they are a danger to drivers. It is common to see signs on roads to watch for them and accidents aren’t unheard of:

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Because of the high population, they are also the second most hunted animal in Sweden (about 100,000 a year). It’s common to see antlers hanging on walls as trophies or decor, and to eat älgkott (moose meat) for dinner.IMG_8331

So, after being in Sweden for almost 3 years and never seeing one, we decided it was time to go to them – at the moose park.

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There are many moose parks in Sweden, luckily we are only a short 45 minute drive from one that is open all year round, everyday: ElingeAlgPark (although the café that normally serves pancakes (crepes) was closed)

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When you go into the park, you get a bundle of twigs and leaves to feed the moose with.

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They particularly like the leaves:

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You can also pet them (There is a sink to wash your hands afterwards):

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Unfortunately, not all of the adult moose were there (probably due to mating season) but the four calves and two adults were on premise. Calves are born in May, so that’s the next time we will be going.

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These 5 month calves are almost the size of mama moose.

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This is the adult male (as you can see by the horns) he was not interested in us at all. The female adult (in another enclosement) was very friendly though!

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So, if you’re looking for something Swedish to do while your in Sweden (and you don’t live in or near a forest where you’d probably see moose in their natural habitat) Why not visit a moose park?

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10 thoughts on “Älg: Moose, Meese, Mooses or Elk?

  1. Thank you for writing such a lovely post and providing such wonderful photos.

    I feel like such an armchair traveller reading it here in the UK, where you’d have to travel a long way North or West to see our largest wild animal – the stag. I think your älg trumps stags – mainly because they look more ancient somehow. Not sure quite why that is – something about the heft of their shoulders maybe. Seeing a stag, or any kind of deer is magical, but I would guess that seeing an älg is something else. I like the fact that they give you a bunch of branches to tempt them to the fence too.

  2. Meg, you should have come to Görvik. We had a family of meese in our neighborhood for much of October. Hanging out in a neighbor’s yard. They are truly wonderful animals.

  3. Gotta love the king of the forest! Moose are one of my favorite animalsーboth to spot in the wild and to eat (sorryーnot sorry, they’re delicious… ^^;)
    Reading this made me miss the homeland just a bit (except for the fact I know the days are getting darker… erk), thank you for sharing! ^^

  4. The animal names in Swedish are so confusing. Fredrik recently got an octopus tattoo but kept calling it a squid in English and I was like no that is a totally different and scary thing!

  5. Pingback: Big Elephant Blessings | Another Far Country

  6. To be correct, The Moose is not the national animal of Sweden, it’s the unofficial national animal of Sweden.
    Sweden actually don’t really have a national animal, but the most accurate answer to which animal is suppose to be our national animal is the black crow.
    However, the majority of sweetness population actually sees the moose as the national animal, hence unofficial national animal.

  7. I loved this post, I too have had encounters where we all end up googling images of elk (american) and moose to try to clear up the confusion. Enough times to make it notable! You have to love those surprising moments where things we take for granted can be so unclear here!

  8. Great page on the majestic animal called “Skogens kung” (King of the forest) in Swedish. It’s for sure not the first time its been discussed what the animal should be called, elk or moose. The main causes to the misunderstandings are the differences between the US and UK English. You know, the common language separated by two countries … 😉 .

    But first of all, as Thomas pointed out, there is no official national animal of Sweden at all. Since May 2015 we have a national bird, the blackbird. Then also, the word “älg” in Swedish is indeed very specific and refers to animals of the genus Alces.

    Until the end of the 20th century, it was assumed that it was only one living specie in the genus Alces and that was Alces alces. In most European non-slavic languages, the name of it was derived from the word alces, in UK English elk. Then came the colonization of North America and the settlers picked up the Algonquian indian name of the animal (mons, moz or mooz depending on dialect) which become moose in US English. The word was spread back to the UK English and was picked up as a synonym to the original elk. However, no other language in Europe did a similar assimilation of the word moose.

    So if you today look at the Oxford dictionary (UK English):
    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/elk
    Elk
    1. British another term for moose
    2. North American another term for wapiti

    But if you check in Miriam-Websters dictionary (US English)
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elk
    Elk
    a large kind of North American deer with big antlers
    a European or Asian moose

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