A rare baby white reindeer was photographed behind a snowy background in Norway, going viral.
The calf posed for photos after emerging from the woods with its mother, which is brownish in color, according to the Daily Mail.
White reindeer are not albino, but they have a rare genetic mutation that strips their fur of any pigment, leaving only white.
Photographer Mads Nordsveen, from Oslo, was on a hiking trip when he spotted the reindeer calf.
“I was walking in the mountains looking for nice landscapes for my travel photography when out of nowhere I saw this wonderful little creature,” he was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying. His photos were posted to his Instagram page.
He added that he “met this little reindeer in northern Norway,” without elaborating where. “He almost disappeared in the snow,” Nordsveen wrote.
The photographer elaborated more on the encounter.
— norsk #yeniden (@norsk_3) December 3, 2018
“He came very close to me and we looked at each other straight in the eyes,” he said. “He was quite relaxed when he saw that I was calm and friendly. It was almost as if he posed for the camera.”
He added: “He was very curious and fun. Like a little explorer. After some minutes the mother of the baby reindeer came out of trees just behind. It walked around for some minutes before running back to its mother.”
“It was very magical and a fairytale moment,” Nordsveen said, according to the Mail.
Traditional Sami culture places a high value on white reindeer.
Known as caribou in North America, reindeer are native to the Arctic, sub-Arctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Siberia, Europe, and North America.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species considers reindeer to be a “vulnerable” species.
The animals were classified in 2015 due to an “observed 40 percent decline over three generations (about 21-27 years) across the circum-Arctic countries, when Rangifer declined from about 4,800,000 to 2,890,410 individuals,” the IUCN says. “Uncertainty is high about the extent of the decline and the under-lying mechanisms except at a general level. Extent and causes of the decline vary with region and subspecies.”
It adds: “The species is largely migratory and gregarious and is thus susceptible to declines as a result of landscape changes, including the establishment of barriers (related to human activities and infrastructure development), which can disrupt migration routes and destroy seasonal habitat. Unregulated hunting, time lags in management and habitat alteration leading to habitat loss, fragmentation, and changes in predation are mechanisms for declines.”
Reindeer have to migrate on long journeys, says the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“Large herds are more apt to migrate long distances, while smaller herds often migrate shorter distances. For example, the Porcupine caribou herd, which contains about 123,000 animals, migrates between summer and winter ranges that are about 400 miles apart. The Central Arctic herd, which contains about 27,000 animals, migrates between summer and winter ranges that are about 120 miles apart,” it says.