A woman saw a moose crossing the road this week, and while this might not be unusual in Anchorage, Alaska, it was the animal's hooves that had her stopping to snap a photo.
Becki Grady told KTUU-TV she was driving to work when she saw the moose crossing the road, it's hooves curved upward like elf shoes.
"I've lived in Alaska my entire life and have never seen a moose like this," she wrote the news station. "I thought it had been injured until I saw that all four of its hooves were curved like that."
Biologist David Battle explained to KTUU what's happening here. It's called "sleigh hoof" syndrome and it's caused by a copper deficiency that makes the hooves to grow faster than they're naturally worn down.
"We see them every so often here in Anchorage and I know sometimes on the Kenai Peninsula," Battle told the news station. "We get reports of them in Anchorage about once or twice a year at best ... it's not very common."
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in the 1970s explained how "faulty hoof keratinization" was indicative of a copper deficiency. It was estimated at the time to only affect 1 to 3 percent of the moose population.
As for whether the condition bothers animals, Battle told KTUU that the hoof will most likely break off on its own and not harm the animal.
"But I would expect that if that moose was in a region where it was running into predators — bears, wolves, etc. — it would probably stand a higher chance of being taken down by a predator," he said.
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