It feels like we have been driving on this road forever, surrounded by trees and more trees. It is high time to find out whether we are on the right track. Our goal: The Virum Älg Park in the surroundings of Vimmerby in the East of Sweden. Apparently, it is possible to cosy up with the Swedish emblem – the moose – there, and this is something we must not miss. A sign with a moose, but this is not extraordinary in Sweden, as they highlight the areas where moose might cross the streets.
A moose is taking a bath
As we reach the Virum Älg Park our eyes are flickering into all directions, we are very eager to see the moose. And finally! There is one! Where? It is taking a bath in the pond … and look … it’s swimming! What a sight … this is the very first time, we see a moose apart from the zoo in Skansen in Stockholm. This is their natural habitat, where they live and are taken care of by the owners of the area. The moose and also deer are moving freely around on an eight hectar area run by Kjell and Helene Svensson. A short visit to the «Älglogen» where we pay an entrance fee of 130 Swedish Crowns (about 14 Euros) and we take our seats in the open wagons for the tour through the Älg Park.
First base with the moose
We are slowly driving through an idyllic forrest and we see some shy glimpses of the moose. As we approach them, they appear out of the woods and are comfortably trotting towards us. They smell the goodies we are bringing: apples, potatoes, twigs and branches. An early dinner for the biggest type of hart in Europe. Suddenly they become faster and now we are the goal!
Quickly we take some twigs the guide gave to us and hold it outside the big window of the car. Just a couple of seconds and they vanish into the wet nozzle of moose Harald, who gently soaks the green leaves up. It feels like feeding a horse, the moose are very kind and only slightly touch the surface of our hands. When we try to «pet» them, they feel wet due to the hot weather and the bath they are taking regularly in their own pond.
Harald becomes greedy and comes closer, his nozzle approaching us fast. The guide shouts: «Take a piece of potato in your mouth and I bet he’ll kiss you!» Wide eyed I am doing as I’m told and suddenly Harald is not shy at all anymore. He rushes towards me and quickly but still gently pulls the potato out of my clenching teeth. Unable to keep my eyes open, I was very happy that I got proof of this once-in-a-lifetime-experience in the form of a photo taken by my good friend and travel companion Marion (thanks honey :-)).
A unique love story
Now, I am officially in love with Harald. Even though the kiss was rather hairy, and even though it was extremely quick, I am sure that I will never forget this one kiss. We witness the calves and how they follow their mothers, we understand that the moose back out into the shadows of the forrest after a while with their visitors. A bit sad, we wave our goodbyes to our new friends with the fluffy antlers and the gentle nozzles – did you know that moose only have teeth in ther lower jaw, so they will never be able to really bite you? This fun fact eases the sad tone of this memory … I guess …
Älg Parks can be found all over Sweden with different numbers of moose. The visit is independent of the weather, even if it is raining cats and dogs, the moose will welcome you warmly. Personally, I can highly recommend a visit to one of the parks. The animals are very shy and almost impossible to see outside the premises of such a park. The Virum Älg Park is situated about 30 minutes south of Vimmerby, the birth city of Astrid Lindgren. And yes, you can buy moose souvenirs at the park.