“At first, I didn't see anything strange, it was like any other elk until we looked more closely,” hunter Carl-Gustav Liderfelt, who shot the animal, told The Local after Svensk Jakt first reported the unusual story.
The 67-year-old has been hunting elk since he was a teenager, and on Saturday found the 'hermaphrodite elk' in Eksjö, Jönköping in southern Sweden.
One of the easiest ways to determine an elk's sex is whether it has antlers, and at first Liderfelt thought the animal was a small male – but he said the antlers were “strange” in appearance, with a hard mass at the base. The animal's head shape looked like that of a female, and the pouch of loose skin under the chin normally found in male elks was almost non-existent.
When the hunters began to remove the elk's intestines, they found that the animal had teats but also a scrotum, though no testes.
“None of us had ever seen anything like it – the vet told me this happens around three times a year, out of 100,000 elks killed in Sweden each year,” said Liderfelt.
The slaughter weight of the animal was 220 kilograms, around 30-40 kilograms more than typical for a female. Its age has not yet been officially determined but the hunters believe the animal was around four years old.
Despite the unusual features of the elk, there were no problems reported with the meat.