American Elk

Cervus canadensis

Class: Mammalia Order: Artiodactyla Family: Cervidae


Height: 4-5 ft at the shoulder

Weight (Males): 800-1100 lbs
Weight (Females): 400-600 lbs


These herbivores feed on grasses, leaves, and bark.


Lifespan (Wild): 10-13 years
Lifespan (Captivity): 20 years

Habitat & Range

Forest and mountains of North America.

Interesting Facts

  • American Elk are the second largest member of the deer family. The largest member of the deer family is the moose.
  • Elk are important to many Native American tribes. In Lakota culture the spiritual elk was a symbol of strength and courage. Another name for elk is Wapiti. This word means “White Rump” in the Shawnee language.
  • During the mating season, male elk bugle and grunt. Females may respond to their calls with a barking noise. Males will also roll in mud during the breeding season to become more attractive to the females.


At the Zoo

The elk can be viewed in our North American habitat, and zoo visitors can get an even closer look at them from our Woodland Express Train. This rubber tire train drives through a wetland area allowing passengers a view of local wildlife such as great blue herons, turtles, beavers, and more.

Conservation Status

Least Concern


Elk were once found throughout the North American continent, but they are now found primarily in western North America. Their populations are threatened by hunting as well as loss of habitat due to development, logging, and agriculture.