13:06 GMT +321 November 2017
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    This picture taken on July 31, 2017 shows a rare white moose in Gunnarskog, Vaermland County, Sweden

    Sweden Spares Celebrity Albino Moose's Life After Public Campaign

    © AFP 2017/ Tommy PEDERSEN / TT News Agency
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    Ferdinand the albino moose, who has become a global celebrity, is no longer at risk of being put down, as Sweden has changed its mind on killing the iconic beast for exhibiting aggressive behavior.

    The all-white moose went viral earlier this year after being caught on camera in Värmland county by a local councilor. Earlier in November, however, plans to euthanize the animal were voiced, as the moose reportedly charged at a local woman walking her dogs in the nearby forest.

    Furthermore, residents were reportedly increasingly staying at home, afraid of the moose. Many also found the moose's taste for apples annoying, as the animal kept munching on them from local orchards.

    Following an intense public outcry in the creature's defense, however, the Värmland police changed their mind and pardoned Ferdinand, who has effectively become a local mascot, Swedish Radio reported.

    "No reports about the moose acting in an aggressive way have been sent in, which is why the decision about the protective hunt no longer applies," Värmland police said in a statement.

    In late summer, footage of the rare creature published by local councilor Hans Nilsson was shared thousands of times on social media. The albino moose's viral fame has prompted many people to flock to Värmland in a bid to catch a glimpse of the local mascot.

    ​"The pressure on the area is great, and many photographers have behaved badly, but the moose is not aggressive," local nature photographer Ingemar Petersson told The Local news outlet earlier this week, contending the moose's alleged aggression.

    After the decision to cull the animal, thousands of Swedes voiced their indignation. A petition by Djurens Rätt, Sweden's largest animal rights organization, to save the moose was signed by nearly 40,000 users, making it the fastest-growing appeal the organization ever had.

    Yet another appeal to save the unique creature was started by Nilsson himself, collecting well over 14,000 signatures.

    In a heartfelt interview with Värmland regional newspaper VF, Nilsson pledged to turn himself into a human shield to protect the moose if necessary, lamenting the fact that he could not make himself big enough.

    "I'm perfectly happy. It's just like I've said all the time, he's is a nice and friendly moose who likes people, but not the dogs that bark on him," Hans Nilsson later said, calling the animal one of Värmland's most important tourist symbols.

    ​Two conditions can account for the whiteness of the moose: albinism and leucism. While the former occurs due to reduced melanin levels, the latter causes partial loss of pigmentation when multiple pigments are lacking, but does not affect the eyes.

    A nation of only 10 million, Sweden is home to a moose population of 300,000, third worldwide to only Russia and Canada. In summertime, it is known to increase to 400,000, which allows for the annual culling of some 100,000 by Sweden's 300,000 hobby hunters.

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    Tags:
    environment, albino, moose, Scandinavia, Sweden
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