European Elk - Alces alces

2007 - 2013

In 2007, a study was launched to explore whether there was sufficient natural vegetation at Alladale to meet the requirements of European Elk which normally consume 20 to 30 kilograms of blaeberry as part of their daily diet. Two hand-reared calves, Hercules (male) and Hulda (female) were brought in from Umea in the north of Sweden. 

European elk (Alces alces) walking along ridge, Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Scotland.

Initially, the animals were kept in a 450 acre enclosure under a DWA (Dangerous Wild animal) licence, where they adapted well. However, there was soon to be evidence that specialist rations would have to be fed to maintain sufficient body weight not only for the animals to survive, but also to breed. Which they did successfully twice: a female calf was born in 2011 and she was named Cas, meaning ‘legs’ in Scottish Gaelic. A male calf was born in 2012, and he was eloquently named ‘Mickey’ by a group of local school children. 

European elk (Alces alces), Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Scotland.

The Highland Council pressed to change the licence to a zoo licence to keep European Elk, leading to a much smaller enclosure for the animals. It was decided in 2013 to move the animals to more suitable zoos and parks: Kincraig wildlife park and the Scottish deer centre in Fife. 

European elk (Alces alces), Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Scotland.