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:
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…
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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)
When you go into the park, you get a bundle of twigs and leaves to feed the moose with.
They particularly like the leaves:
You can also pet them (There is a sink to wash your hands afterwards):
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.
These 5 month calves are almost the size of mama moose.
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!
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?