A rare elk that created a sensation in the S.C. mountains last year is living the good life in the Lowcountry.
The 500-pounder roams the Charles Towne Landing nature park with a handful of buffalo, where he spends most of his days munching grass and eating a special wild animal grain provided by park staff.
Since he was brought to the park in December 2016, the elk has grown a full rack of antlers and generally seems to be adapting well, Charles Towne Landing manager Rob Powell said.
“He’s very healthy, eating well and gaining weight the way he should,’’ Powell said. “He’s acclimated to his new surroundings.’’
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Called Prancer by Upstate residents last year, the elk now goes by the name of Clark. Charles Towne Landing staffers started calling the elk Clark for William Clark, who explored the Louisiana Purchase in the 1800s.
“It’s because he went exploring,’’ Powell said of the name.
The elk galloped in and out of Upstate neighborhoods for parts of two months last year after crossing into South Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where elk have been reintroduced to the wild. He was the only known elk running wild in South Carolina at the time. Residents reported numerous sightings.
Worried the animal might be killed or harm someone as it lost its fear of people, state wildlife biologists captured Clark in December 2016, near Devil’s Fork State Park in the mountains.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources then struck a deal with Charles Towne Landing and hauled Clark across the state for display at the state-owned nature park.
So far, the three-year-old Clark remains in a class by himself, according to the DNR.
“I haven’t seen any elk sightings since him,’’ biologist Tammy Wactor said. “That was just an oddball situation.’’