In 2015, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration partnered with artist Linda Bakke to erect a gorgeous, glistening moose statue situated alongside a busy highway between the cities of Oslo and Trondheim.
Standing nearly 33 feet tall, the mighty stainless steel likeness of a European elk named Storelgen — the "Big Elk" — was strategically installed to prompt speeding motorists to slow down and admire the artwork, a tactic that officials hoped would help reduce traffic accidents and collisions with wildlife. The statue was also apparently conceived to irk the residents of Moose Jaw, Canada, in a big way.
Up until Storelgen arrived on the scene, Moose Jaw was very proudly home to the world's tallest moose statue in the form of Mac the Moose, a colossal concrete-coated beast built in 1984 that's currently located at the Moose Jaw Visitors' Center. Storelgen, as it turns out, is nearly a foot taller than Mac Moose and the residents of Saskatchewan's fourth largest city aren't having it … not having it at all.
While Norway has boasted about being home to the world's tallest moose statue for the last four-odd years, folks in Moose Jaw were, it would seem, blissfully unaware of its existence and continued to think they had the world's tallest moose. It hasn't been until recently that the good people of Moose Jaw learned that their beloved bit of roadside kitsch — Mac was named the city's most popular celebrity in 2013 per the Toronto Star — had been one-upped by a glitzy Norwegian elk.
And they're now dead set on reclaiming those bragging rights.
"There are some things you just don't do to Canadians — you don't water down their beer, you don't tell them they can't put maple syrup on their pancakes and you don't mess with Mac the Moose," Moose Jaw's fired-up mayor, Fraser Tolmie, proclaimed last week. "(The Norwegians) purposely built a moose bigger than ours, but we're going to be dignified and we're going to win."
And as The Star reports, it's a personal(ish) matter for Tolmie as Mac the Moose was named after his wife's great uncle, the late city alderman Les MacKenzie.
Crowdfunding for a brand new rack
To help Mac the Moose rightfully regain his title of world's tallest faux moose, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched with a $50,000 goal.
Early (and very creative) ideas include using the crowdfunded cash to extend Mac's antlers or place some sort of headgear on him such as a broad-brimmed Mountie cap or a hockey helmet. Outfitting the steel-framed statue in a pair of ice skates or bright red stiletto heels has even been proposed… anything to add at least a couple more feet to Mac's overall height.
But as announced at a press conference held on Monday, the most plausible way to ensure Mac once again reigns as world's tallest moose is to simply outfit the statue with a pair of bigger, better antlers. Before any sort of alternations proceed, a structural engineer will be consulted to make sure the statue can support a new rack. If that's not the case, other modifications will be considered.
"We do feel the most immediate and obvious answer is to have him shed his antlers, as moose do, and grow a new set," Jacki L'Heureux-Mason, executive director of Tourism Moose Jaw, tells the CBC. She notes that all future work on the statue will be paid for by donations, not taxpayers dollars.
As for Mac, he has given the city his full blessing for any sort of height-adjustment project. The inanimate object even provided a prepared speech, which was read aloud by Tolmie on behalf of Mac: "I am not ashamed of my size nor should anyone else be. This is not a size issue, this is a pride issue." But, in the end, Mac makes clear: "One way or another, I will soon reclaim my status as world's tallest moose."
Don't mess with Moose Jaw
As The New York Times elaborates, Storelgen was deliberately designed by Bakke to be just a wee bit taller than Mac the Moose.
"When it was decided to create a sculpture in that dimension, we decided we could just as well step in and make the world's largest and, in addition, the world's finest," she explains. "That was not so difficult to beat."
And, as mentioned, Mac's ardent fanbase just recently got wind of all this.
"They were trying to send a message, so we can't let that stand," says Saskatchewanian YouTube personality Justin Reves, who, alongside comedy partner Greg Moore, launched the GoFundMe campaign and were the first to bring the "egregious offence" to light.
Calling Bakke's creation an "ostentatious chrome moose," the campaign page reads:
"We believe it is our duty as Canadians to not stand idly by while our national treasures are insulted with this creation. Together, we will reclaim the title of World's Tallest Moose for Mac and the people of Moose Jaw."
Speaking to the Times, Tolmie adds that having the world's tallest moose statue "standing there on guard to our community" is only fitting considering the city's eccentric name. In contrast, the small Norwegian municipality where Storelgen is located, Stor-Elvdal, roughly translates to "Big River Valley" — not very moose-y at all.
Officials in Stor-Elvdal, however, are determined not to relinquish the title to the incensed denizens of a Canadian prairie town with a funny name.
"We're not letting this one go. Not a chance. We're going to do whatever we can to make sure this is the world's tallest moose — or biggest moose in the future, as well," Stor-Elvdal's deputy mayor, Linda Otnes Henriksen, proclaims in the below video. The municipality is even considering doubling Storelgen's overall size if permission is granted from the artist.
But there might be a hitch. Noting that she's ultimately "neutral" in the battle over the world's tallest moose statue, Bakke tells the Times that she's open to creating a new statue that's taller than Storelgen for Canada — if the price is right.
What's more, the BBC reports that as of late last week a Facebook poll conducted by Norwegian online newspaper Dagbladet showed Mac, not Storelgen, well in the lead as the "favorite" moose statue among over 20,000 online voters who, presumably, were largely Norwegians.
While it pales in comparison to Australia (aka the Land of Big Things), Canada is home to a decent handful of freakishly large animal sculptures including a 90 metric ton concrete crustacean (Shediac, New Brunswick), a monstrous squid (Glover's Harbour, Newfoundland), an immense fiberglass dairy cow (New Liskeard, Ontario), a semi-terrifying sandpiper (Dorchester, New Brunswick) and a 15-foot-tall beaver located in, where else but, Beaverlodge, Alberta.