WATCH: Incredibly Rare Albino Moose Spotted Crossing River in Sweden

by Lauren Boisvert

Back in August, a local Swedish politician captured the footage of a lifetime: an all-white moose. Recorded in the Värmland region of southwest Sweden, the video recently went viral for the moose’s incredibly white coat and antlers. Outsider recently posted the video on social media, so take a look and see the majesty for yourself.

Hans Nilsson, a municipal councilmember in Värmland, spoke about the encounter on the Swedish radio station Sverige Radio. He shared that, on several occasions, he’s tried to film or photograph the incredibly rare animal. It took three years before Nilsson finally got the footage he was looking for: a video of the moose wading into a shallow river, then climbing out onto the opposite bank.

Although this looks like an albino moose, the all-white coat isn’t actually a case of albinism, which is a complete loss of pigment, usually with pinkish eyes in animals. Rather, this moose is the result of its parents both carrying the recessive gene for white hair, resulting in this “double-recessive” moose, similar to this spirit bear, or kermode, seen in Michigan. Often, moose are born piebald, which means they are white with patches of brown hair.

While the odds of seeing a white moose is about 100,000 to one, videos of these animals have made the rounds before. For instance, in June a video surfaced of two twins in Norway. It’s also possible that the population is increasing in Scandinavia. Moose have no natural predators there except humans, claims Göran Ericsson, a professor of elk and moose at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Populations thrive there, and double-recessive, albino, or piebald moose could become more common.

Could White Moose Thrive In Scandinavia?

“Hunters have chosen to not kill any moose that are light,” Ericsson told National Geographic in August. “It is kind of like dog breeding. [Hunters] choose to select for traits that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.” This means that the animals are more-or-less protected, if not officially, then unofficially just by hunters choosing not to kill them. Future offspring more often receive those traits.

Although, NatGeo notes, there’s no database of white moose for any region. Because of this, it’s hard to know if future generations are receiving the gene more often. The population is not recorded except by chance sightings. So, it’s not really an exact science, but more of a hope.

That said, there have also been sightings of these special animals in North America and Canada. But, unlike in Scandinavia, in those regions there are more natural predators, like wolves and bears. Though, in Canada, there’s a rule that prohibits hunters from killing a moose with hair that is more than 50% white. In that way, these spectacular creatures are protected, if just slightly.