Have you ever heard about the most famous moose in Sweden? Well, it is huge, kinda chubby and completely white!
Last summer, a beautiful white male moose was spotted in the Swedish region of Värmland by the politician and nature enthusiast Hans Nilsson, who was able to capture a short footage of this majestic animal while swimming. The video went viral in no-time and the moose became a regional celebrity.
Drama! The price of fame
As consequence to the growing fame of this white moose, many people from around the world came to Sweden with the hopes to see and photograph this rare specimen. This situation wasn’t very well received by the moose, who started displaying aggressive behavior towards the rowdy tourists.
Because of this, the authorities decided that shooting the animal was the only option to protect the visitors from getting hurt. Of course, this wasn’t very well received by the community, who believed that the moose was just behaving like any other harassed animal would.
For a few days, the internet was flooded with messages such as “save the white moose” and petitions for signing. There was even a radio show that interviewed animal experts at SLU about their thoughts in respect to the situation.
Fortunately, and after a huge community effort, the authorities decided to keep the moose alive!
Why is the white moose white? SLU’s genome analysis students in the case!
Although uncommon, white moose have been encountered in Sweden for many years, and have been kept alive by hunters because of their beautiful coating and rarity.
Contrary to popular believing, these white moose are not albino. A true albino would display pinkish-redish eyes, but none of these moose does. The reason for the white coat in moose hasn’t been discovered yet, but it has been hypothesized that it is the cause of a recessive gene that affects the deposition of melanin in the fur.
As some of you might know, I am currently taking the Genome Analysis course at SLU. And as a final project, we have the task of trying to detect if there is a mutation in the candidate genes MITF or ASIP that is the causative of the white coating in moose –both genes have been linked in numerous occasions with white coloring in several species. — We haven’t gotten any conclusive results yet but we are working on it! Hopefully by the end of this course I will be able to blog about amazing findings in the moose genome!
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Have a lovely day!