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North American Elk Calf Debuts at Topeka Zoo

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On June 2, the Topeka Zoo welcomed a female North American Elk calf. The girl was born to 4-year-old mother Aspen, and she has been given the name Maple. According to Zoo Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Shirley Llizo, the birth was “textbook style from delivery to nursing.”

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The zoo is now home to three Elk: Aspen and her one-year-old daughter, Juniper, and newborn Maple. The newest girl recently joined her mom and sister on public display.

The Elk calf is now on public display with mom and sister, Juniper.

The Topeka Zoo’s Elk were a donation from local chiropractor, Dr. Tim Bolz.

The Elk is one of the largest species within the Cervidae (deer) family, and they are one of the largest land mammals in North America and eastern Asia. The Elk is native to North America and eastern Asia, but they have adapted well to countries where they have been introduced, including: Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

They prefer to reside in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves and bark. Males have large antlers, which are shed each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, sparring, and bugling (a loud series of vocalizations which establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.

Females have a short estrus cycle of only a day or two, and mating usually involves a dozen or more attempts. By the autumn of their second year, females can produce one, or occasionally two, offspring. Gestation period is 240 to 262 days, and the offspring are born weighing about 33 to 35 lbs (15 to 16 kilograms). Calves are born spotted and lose the spots by end of summer.

Elk live 20 or more years, in captivity, but they average only 10 to 13 years, in the wild.

The Elk is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Some cultures revere the species as a spiritual force and use their antlers and velvet in traditional medicines. They are also hunted as a game species.

More great pics, below the fold!

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