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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 15:48 GMT
Buy a moose with your mouse
Toronto fibreglass moose
The moose is a Canadian national symbol
Moose lovers who surf the net are being offered the chance to bid in a highly unusual internet auction.

The Canadian city of Toronto is selling off 141 life-sized, brightly-decorated replicas of the north American creature.

They were among 326 fibreglass models displayed on Toronto's streets last year in an exhibition called "Moose in the City".

moose
Not me: Only fibreglass moose are on sale

The 16-day auction is taking place at www.buyamoose.com.

The proceeds are going to various charities, with the Canadian Olympic Athletes Association getting one-third of the total.

The moose were painted by Toronto artists and sponsored by local firms. Corporations were invited to buy a moose or herd, at $6,500 (US$4,330) per animal.

Crowd-puller

City officials estimate that the exhibition attracted two million visitors between April and October.

Moose facts
Largest member of deer family
Up to 2m tall, weighs up to 820kg
Inhabits North America and Eurasia
Known as elk in Europe
Males have enormous antlers, which are shed and regrown annually
Feeds on aquatic plants, grasses, herbs and bark

Tricia Hosking of Tourism Toronto told the BBC that the idea came from Chicago, which organised a show called Cows on Parade, involving colourful life-size cows.

"Toronto took our national symbol and decided to have moose on the streets," she said.

The creatures were found on the corners of boulevards or in gardens as if grazing.

"It became a challenge for people to find a new moose - almost like rediscovering our city," Ms Hosking said.

"Some were wild and wacky, others beautiful... At Christmas we had 50 of them all dressed up for the holidays."

The organisers of the auction say the Moose in the City exhibition has already raised $350,000 ($233,152 US) for charity.

A further 31 moose will be auctioned on 29 January.

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