“We didn’t make the decision to replace him immediately. Within a few days people wanted to know if we were going to get another one. I knew these guys (Plateau Valley Elk Ranch) raised elk near Rifle, so last week we gave them a call.”
— Lou Wyman about the decision to acquire J.R. the elk
Northwest Colorado is famous for its elk.
Yet one in particular stood out as being more special than the rest.
Clyde was a rare animal, a docile member of a species not well-known for its domestic characteristics.
Nevertheless, he was as identifiable with the City of Craig and Moffat County as Dinosaur National Monument, the Sandwash Basin wild horses or even Craig Station.
And when Clyde the elk passed away last month at the age of 18 at Wyman Living History Museum, his home since 2004, the Craig community lost much more than its most unique attraction.
To some, it was the loss of a friend.
Clyde was born in 1994 when Lou Wyman and his family operated a domestic elk ranch not far from where the Wyman Museum currently stands at 94350 E. U.S. Highway 40 in Craig.
When Clyde’s mother abandoned him shortly after his birth, Wyman felt compelled to take the animal in as a pet.
In 2004 Wyman moved Clyde to the newly opened museum where he delighted visitors of all ages for the next eight years.
Despite his and the community’s fondness for Clyde, Wyman said Monday he wasn’t sure if Craig’s most famous elk was replaceable.
The Craig community convinced him otherwise.
“We didn’t make the decision to replace him immediately,” Wyman said. “Within a few days people wanted to know if we were going to get another one. I knew these guys (Plateau Valley Elk Ranch) raised elk near Rifle, so last week we gave them a call.”
On Monday a new chapter began when Junior, also known as J.R., arrived at his home at Wyman Museum.
After one look Wyman said he was confident J.R. would live up to Clyde’s legacy.
At just two years old, J.R. may carry the body mass of a “spiked” bull elk, Wyman said, but he already is sporting a nice rack complete with six points.
“It’s unusual for a two-year-old to have a six-point rack,” Wyman said. “Andy (Azcarraga of Plateau Valley Elk Ranch) told us Junior's father scored 430, so he’s already showing he’s got the genetics to be a big bull.”
J.R. is settling into his new home well, Wyman said Monday.
He is currently accepting visitors.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.