Wild elks use their body heat to save boy from hypothermia

The elk (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species within the deer family, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America.

Female elk (called cows) average 496 to 531 lb, stand 4.3 ft at the shoulder, and are 6.9 ft from nose to tail. Male elk (bulls) are 40% larger than cows at maturity, weighing an average of 705 to 730 lb, standing 4.9 ft at the shoulder and averaging 8.0 ft in length.

During the fall, elk grow a thicker coat of hair, which helps to insulate them during the winter.

Needless to say, wild elk avoid humans, especially hunters.

Rocky Mountain bull elk (Wikipedia)

The Eagles Nest Wilderness area in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Forest is prone to sudden, unpredictable and drastic changes in weather.

In 1992, Derek Patton and his youngest son Ryan were hunting in Eagles Nest when the two got separated.

Derek got a search and rescue party to search for the boy, but in vain.

Then it began to snow. The rescue party had to call off their search when night fell.

The boy, dressed in summer clothes, would surely die from hypothermia.

The next morning, they resumed their search.

The rescue dog found Ryan, who was on the verge of hypothermia.

The boy told an amazing story — that he had sought shelter under the low-hanging branches of a fir tree when two large elks approached. Ryan twice tried to shoo the elks away, but the elks persisted, each time getting closer to Ryan.

Finally, Ryan gave up, and the two elks lied down next to Ryan throughout the night, shielding him from the cold with their body heat.

In the morning, the elks left.

I sure hope Derek and Ryan Patton stopped hunting after this miraculous display of altruism by the two elks.

H/t JosephBC69

See these other cases of animal altruism/heroism:


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6 Comment authors
Service dog saves the lives of kittens abandoned in the woods - Fellowship Of The MindsCalGirlLeeann SpringerDavidZigggy Recent comment authors
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Thank you for this beautiful story. Miracles do happen every day. I too hope this father and son stopped hunting because of this experience.


Divine intervention 🙂


This reminds me of how it says in Isaiah that God sends wild animals to do tasks for Him.

Leeann Springer
Leeann Springer

God sent the elks as His Divine Intervention. What a marvelous and deeply touching story. I once read a true life account about wolves who kept a man from freezing in a snowstorm, by covering him with their bodies. God’s angels are sometimes “animals”. I love these stories! Leeann


Miracles do happen. I had a stray mama cat jump over a 6-ft. solid board fence & save me , in answer to a desperate prayer, from a rattlesnake in the dark one night….a story I related here some time ago…(she promptly got a home and vet care from us and lived with us for 13 years thereafter). This is a season of love and miracles, the birth of a Savior, and the advent of a Gospel of shared prayer and love of our brothers and sisters: Tonight, 5 December, is the Feast of St. Nicholas: a “giver,” and an… Read more »


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