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.
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.
See these other cases of animal altruism/heroism:
- Cat protects 5-year-old boy from bullies
- Little dog saves 4 tiny kittens from fire
- 7 animals who saved humans
- Elephant rushes to protect caretaker under attack
- Animal altruism: Dog shares ‘maternity ward’ with pregnant cat
- Animal altruism: Turtle lends a helping hand to another
- Monkey revives electrocuted friend
- Animal altruism: Why homeless cat would only accept kibbles in a plastic bag
- Homeless dog brings friend to rescuer
- Homeless dog saves newborn baby from garbage dump
- A dog’s love for his bud
- Animals love, grieve, and have empathy
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