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A Rare, Lonely, Amorous Musk Ox Is Stinking Up a Small Swedish Town

There are only eleven musk oxen in the whole country, and none of them are anywhere near this guy.

A bull musk ox, possibly out looking for love.

A bull musk ox, possibly out looking for love. (Photo: Tim Bowman, US Fish and Wildlife Service/Public Domain)

Male musk oxen are easy to spot—they’re huge and shaggy, with curved horns and lumbering gaits. Often, they’re also easy to smell: During the summer mating season, they emit a very distinctive, very pungent scent (thus the “musk” part of “musk ox”). If all goes according to plan, this brings the females flying, and they have a grand old smelly time.

If all doesn’t go according to plan, the hapless ox ends up walking aimlessly around and stinking up the joint. According to the Local, that’s how things are shaking out with one particular guy, who has somehow ended up in Lillhärdal, Sweden—a small town that boasts about 335 humans and approximately zero female musk oxen.

“He is looking for ladies and there are none of those in Lillhärdal, so he’s expected to move on,” communications officer Claes Ahlström told a local radio station. Thus far, though, he really hasn’t, instead wandering around, approaching interested residents, and cultivating a certain amount of local celebrity.

At the moment, there are only about 11 wild musk oxen in Sweden overall. Best of luck to this one, whose burgeoning fame and distinct odor have to count for something.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.

Update, 10/10: The original version of this article said that there were about nine musk oxen in Sweden at the moment—the herd actually numbers eleven, including this wandering male. Thanks to Dolly Jørgensen for the correction, and we regret the error.