Common name: American Elk
Scientific name: Cervus canadensis
American Elk live in primarily in western North America (with some smaller eastern populations), from south-western Canada to New Mexico.
At the zoo: A herd of 4 females, and males Manny (10y) & Manoah (10y)
Leaves, roots and tubers, wood, bark, stems, bryophytes, and lichens.
Conservation Status: Least Concern
American Elk are the largest of the elk family, weighing up to 500 kilograms. Every spring, male elk begin to grow a new pair of antlers. While the antlers grow, they are covered with a thin velvet. By late summer, the antlers are hard and begin to shed their velvet. In the winter, the antlers get hard near the skull and fall off. On a mature bull, the antlers can reach 1.2 m above its head and weigh over 36 kg.
Male and female elk live in separate herds until the fall mating season. During the mating season, a male brings together his own herd of females, known as a harem, and protects it carefully from other males. Each cow typically has a single calf, which can stand within one hour of its birth.
Wilderness preserves and parks are essential in protecting the American elk from habitat loss and poaching.
Did you know that a summer herd of elk can be as many as 400 individuals!