A petition to save a rare white elk spotted in Sweden has attracted thousands of signatures and saved the animal from being put down.
The animal made headlines around the world in August when it was filmed in the Värmland region in western Sweden.
Local councillor Hans Nilsson first sighted the animal, but police had since threatened to put down the animal after it reportedly approached a woman walking her two dogs.
The 450kg elk spooked the two dogs, prompting them to run off, and resulting in the woman falling and injuring herself.
Since the police announcement, more than 40,000 people have signed an online petition by Sweden’s largest animal rights organisation, Djurens Rätt, to save the elk.
Djurens Rätt said in the first five hours more than 20,000 people had supported the movement, a new record for the organisation.
“It is the fastest-growing petition we have ever had,” a spokesperson told The Local.
“We urged the authorities in Värmland to withdraw the decision to shoot the elk. This is a wild animal that has reacted in a natural way – then being punished with death is not how we should be treating wild animals,” Djurens Rätt said in a statement.
Hunters were going to attempt to chase the white elk away from residential areas, but if that failed the local police chief said they would have to shoot the animal.
Police have since cancelled any plans to cull the animal following the overwhelming support.
Experts predict there are only 100 white elks in Sweden’s moose population of 300,000 – 400,000.
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