Norway’s National Animal Explained

Most countries in the world has a chosen national animal, and Norway is no exception to that tradition. So, let’s take a closer look at Norway’s national animal!

There is no official national animal in Norway, but a vote of popularity by the Norwegian public decided that the moose should be considered as the national animal.

So most people consider the moose (or elk as it’s often called in Europe) to be the national animal of Norway. This is the answer you would get if you ask a random Norwegian on the street, but this is not officially ratified by the government or anything like that.

Norwegian moose
Norwegian moose. Photo published with permission.

Why Norwegians wanted the moose / elk to be Norway’s national animal

The moose / elk is known to be the king of the forest in the Norwegian wilderness, and it’s by far the biggest animal in nature. It holds a place in the hearts of all Norwegians, and has found its place in Norwegian stories, myths and local legends.

You will find the moose in all forested parts of Norway, and it’s still common to come across it. As a matter of fact, I often see a moose in the nearby field when looking out my window when I’m working on writing content for The Norway Guide.

Most Norwegians have a connection with the moose. Either from meeting this huge animal out in the wild, or from seeing the amazing antlers on a trophy display in a cabin somewhere.

Moose grazing
Moose grazing. Photo published with permission.

Moose are considered one of the most sought after animals for Norwegian hunters, and moose with big antlers are highly prized.

The moose has this long historic presence, is quite a majestic animal in itself, is somewhat common to meet if you’re out and about in the woods, and is found in most of Norway, so it’s not strange that it was voted to be Norway’s national animal.

PS. if you meet a moose in Norway, keep in mind that they are considered to be one of Norway’s dangerous animals. They are not aggressive, but it is advised to not approach them – particularly females with calves.

A moose with calves.
A moose with calves. Photo published with permission.

How the moose became the unofficial national animal of Norway

The moose became chosen as the unofficial national animal of Norway by a vote of popularity on a radio program back in the 1960s. This program (called Nitimen) was run by the national broadcaster NRK with the intent to choose some of Norway’s national things, including the animal, Norway’s national flower, the national bird and more.

They firstly opened for anyone to send in suggestions, then filtered out the relevant ones. Then for phase two, they opened for anyone in Norway to vote on which animal that should be considered to be Norway’s national animal.

The moose won the contest, and has since been known as the unofficial national animal in Norway.

Why doesn’t Norway have an official national animal?

Many governments around the world has chosen upon a selected official national animal to represent the country, but this has never been the case in Norway. There simply has never been an official, political discussion.

One of the potential problems with making an animal the official national animal is that it would discriminate against other animals that might be equally as important, or even more important than the actual official animal.

And what’s even the upside to picking one? Most countries chose one because they want to offer it additional protection, but there’s not really a need for this in Norway.

Other animals that have been considered the national animal of Norway

As mentioned earlier, the moose was chosen by a vote of popularity. It won, but there were obviously other candidates. So, which other animals were considered when selecting which should become the national animal of Norway?

One of the most popular other options for Norway’s national animal is the wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus). This subspecies of reindeer has pretty much all of it’s wild population living in Norway, so it’s a classic example of a type of animal that most people would associate with Norway.

A reindeer in Jotunheimen national park
A reindeer in Jotunheimen national park. Photo published with permission.

Other suggestions was the wolverine, brown bear and red fox, but none of these are particularly special for Norway.

As a matter of fact, Norway does not really have any real endemic animals other than a few insects that are super rare and mostly unknown to the public, so most of our wildlife is also found in our neighbor countries like Sweden, Finland and Russia.

In addition to having a regular national animals, Norway’s national bird is the white-throated dipper. This bird was also chosen by a vote of popularity, but is considered the national bird by all Norwegians just like the moose is considered the national animal.

A White-throated Dipper
The White-throated Dipper is Norway’s national bird. Photo published with permission.

The Norwegian Coat of Arm’s Lion

The Norwegian Coat of Arms include a lion, which was chosen back as early as the 13th century. This lion was chosen to represent the royal bloodline, and has been used in the coat of arms ever since. The lion on the coat of arms is seen holding an axe, and wearing a crown.

As you can obviously guess, the lion does not really have no connection to Norway at all, and was simply chosen because it was believed to be a strong and royal animal. The lion is not considered to be an official animal of Norway even though it is featured on the coat of arms.

The Norwegian coat of arms is protected by very strict laws, so I cannot publish a photo of it here without legal repercussions, but you can look at it on the Norwegian government’s official website here.

And that’s pretty much all there is to know about Norway’s national animal! Let me know in the comment section below if you got any questions.

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