City of Marshfield – The City of Marshfield Parks and Recreation department would like to provide an update on our Elk Bull, Lincoln. This summer while Lincoln’s antlers were growing he damaged one of them. While growing, antlers in velvet are relatively fragile compared to the strong bony displays of dominance they will become. Lincoln’s body seemed to notice the damage and shut down growth to that side of his antlers. The premature hardening of that side likely led to a weaker antler. In the past one to two weeks, Lincoln has almost completely broken off his right beam.
Consulting with the veterinary team at Athens Veterinary Service, staff made the decision to immobilize Lincoln in order to remove the remaining antler. This painless operation eliminated the risk of cervical damage resulting from an uneven weight load on Lincoln’s spine. Additionally, because Lincoln does not have antlers, he will be able to stay in the pasture with the cows this fall and winter season. In the past, he was separated due to aggression; however, without his antlers, he will be much less dangerous to the cows. The damage earlier in the year, as well as the removal of the remaining antler today, will have no effect on Lincoln’s future antler growth or health.
Antler growth and shedding coincides with an elk herd’s social order throughout the year. During the fall breeding season, males carry large “racks” as a visual and physical display of dominance used to win breeding opportunities. Following the breeding season (in late winter/early spring) the antlers will fall off. This allows for cow safety and a more dominant role, as compared to the bulls during the time that they are pregnant, calving and raising young. By the end of summer, males’ antlers have regrown and they once again take a more dominant role in the herd. Lincoln appreciates your support and care while he adjusts to his newly naked head (and resulting loss of dominance).
As always, we thank our patrons for their past and future support of Wildwood Zoo.
Submitted to OnFocus.