Sweden's Famous White Moose in All His Mystical Glory

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©. Anders Tedeholm

When the rare leucistic moose appeared before his camera, photographer Anders Tedeholm captured the magic.

You may remember several years ago when a video of a rare white moose in Sweden made the rounds. It went completely viral, for obvious reasons – like, it was the most majestic thing ever caught on camera, for starters.

But now we have something equally majestic, just in still form: A shot of this magnificent member of the deer family, taken by photographer Anders Tedeholm. Seriously, who needs unicorns when this moose exists?

The story behind the white moose photo

We chatted with Anders by email and he told us a bit about the shot. Anders lives in a place called Hammarö, Sweden, which is around 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the enchanted forest that the moose calls home. He confirms that it is the same moose made famous by the video. Anders says that he has met him several times now.

When we asked how the photo came about, Anders told us,

I had heard that the moose had been seen close to a village in the area the day before, so I went there to try to get some photos of him. I was driving around on the small roads in the area, and suddenly he was standing there.

We dare say, an apparition! And we wouldn't want it any other way.

The photo is so fairytale perfect that we wondered if there were any Photoshop shenanigans at hand. Anders shared the original files with us to compare, and we can confirm that aside from minimal adjustments, this is the actual magic that happened.

For the record, it's not an "albino" moose

Despite the distinct lack of color, the moose's wan hue is not from albinism. Albinism is a genetic condition in which there is an absence of melanin, the stuff responsible for giving color to the skin, hair, eyes, et cetera. Our moose here – like many of the snowy peacocks and cream-colored giraffes of the world – has leucism, which is a mutation resulting in reduced pigment. A true albino moose would have pink or red eyes; animals with leucism have dark eyes.

How rare are white moose?

While this ivory creature may be magical and mystical, there are others of his ilk. Sightings of white moose have been reported in Norway, as well as Canada and Alaska. Göran Ericsson, a "professor of elk and moose" (dream job) for the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences told National Geographic that while the condition is rare, it’s possible the prevalence of white moose is increasing.

“Hunters have chosen to not kill any moose that are light,” said Ericsson. Which means that they are essentially being protected, and thus, natural selection has the opportunity to make them more common. “It is kind of like dog breeding,” he said. “They choose to select for traits that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.”

A world with more white moose? Bring it on. And can we get some unicorns in there while we're at it?

Thank you to Anders for sharing this exquisite shot; you can see more of his magic at his website.