Camera Lumix FZ 28
Place Holeberg Sweden
Location Varmlands Algpark
Värmlands Älgar & Alpackor
The Eurasian elk, together with its close relative the moose (Alces americanus), is the largest living deer species, and is easily recognised by its humped shoulders, broad, overhanging muzzle, and the pendulous flap of skin and hair, known as the ‘bell’, which hangs beneath the throat. There is much debate over whether the Eurasian elk and the moose constitute separate species, or are in fact a single species. The two forms differ in features of the skull and antlers, in colouration and in chromosome number, but hybridisation occurs between them in some areas, and genetic analyses may not support distinct species status. A number of subspecies have been proposed.
Both the Eurasian elk and the moose have a heavy, deep body, with long legs, a relatively short tail, and wide hooves, which aid in walking over mud or snow. The male Eurasian elk is larger than the female, and bears the bony, hornlike antlers. Initially covered in skin (‘velvet’), which is later rubbed off, the antlers are broad and flattened at the base, with short projecting branches, and are shed each winter and re-grown through the summer. The antlers of Eurasian elk and moose are the largest of any deer species, spanning up to 2 metres across and weighing as much as 30 kilograms. The coat of the Eurasian elk ranges from blackish to reddish brown, lighter on the underparts and lower legs, and consists of a fine wool undercoat interspersed with long guard hairs, providing excellent insulation. The winter coat, which is shed in spring, is duller and lighter in colour. Juveniles are reddish brown.