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‘Buttons’ the elk not a fan of the wild, transported to Seattle zoo

(Photo courtesy of Arlo Frederick / Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

While most elk prefer the company of other elk, a partially-tamed elk named “Buttons” would rather hang out with humans.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife found this out after she appeared to turn down a chance to live among other wild elk, so “Buttons” is being placed at Woodland Park Zoo.

Buttons was habituated to humans from a young age, and became somewhat of a local celebrity in Cle Elum, where she often visited rural ranches and homes.

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“People petted her, hand fed her, put children on her back,” said Scott McCorquodale, WDFW regional wildlife program manager.

But despite becoming the friendly neighborhood mascot, Buttons couldn’t help being an elk, and WDFW officials received reports of damaged property, as well as signs of aggression toward people and pets. They then swooped in and immobilized young Buttons, and spent five weeks attempting to re-wild her.

It didn’t take, as Buttons seemed to ignore the herd like a kid in high school preferring her cool friends and gravitated toward the human settlements instead. So to prevent the whole thing from happening again, the Woodland Park Zoo agreed to take her in, and Buttons is on her way to joining the other three elk at the zoo.

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“Each spring, the Department works to make sure people leave fawns, elk calves and other wildlife alone if found in the wild,” said Scott McCorquodale, WDFW regional wildlife program manager.

“I know this elk will get great care at Woodland Park Zoo, and she will live with a small number of her own kind,” McCorquodale said. “Beyond that one bit of good, I hope her story results in more commitment for people not to let this happen again.”

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