Finland: Elk romps through central Helsinki rush hour

Reindeer running through the streets Image copyright Sakarias Laukkanen

An elk has shocked commuters in the Finnish capital of Helsinki by romping through the streets during rush hour.

The animal was first spotted roaming the streets around 03:00 local time (00:00 BST), the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reports. Police officers then spent "the rest of the night chasing the erratically-behaved animal," it says.

One man says the elk ran in front of his car on his way to work before dashing into the bushes, nearly causing what's known in Finland as a hirvikolari - a specific type of road accident involving an elk. "My first thought was - there is no way I am going to end up having a hirvikolari in [central Helsinki]," Matti Murtoniemi tells Ilta-Sanomat newspaper. The animal then wandered around Helsinki's famous Kaivopuisto restaurant and the Turkish embassy, the paper adds.

But the elk's city break was short-lived, as police say they had no choice but to shoot it. "They had been hoping to spare the animal by directing him towards the sea so it could swim away," Helsingin Sanomat says. A police spokesman adds that plan became too difficult to implement and was abandoned.

"It just shows what a small rural town Helsinki is," one local woman tells Helsingin Sanomat. Taking a picture of the late elk, she adds: "I've just told my neighbour - make sure your freezer is empty as there is so much fresh meat on offer."

The European elk is known in North America as a moose.

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