Rocky Mountain National Park's famous elk Kahuna to be memorialized with life-size statue

·2 min read

One of Rocky Mountain National Park's most famous elk is no longer with us in life, but a group is hoping to raise enough money to keep the majestic bull's memory alive in the form of a bronze sculpture.

The Kahuna Memorial Project is looking to raise $150,000 to commission and build a life-size memorial to the 1,000-pound elk known as Kahuna, Bruno, Incredibull and Big Thirds. The animal died of natural causes in the park in March.

Kahuna's skull and massive antler were illegally removed from the park but park rangers recovered the skull and antler about a month after he died.

"Kahuna was a magnificent elk that captured the imagination of nature lovers and photographers from around the world,'' said John Coombs, chair of the Kahuna Memorial Project Steering Committee, in a news release. "We want to preserve Kahuna’s legacy by dedicating a memorial that will tell his story and inspire future generations to visit and watch for his many descendants.''

Kahuna, a Rocky Mountain National Park bull elk named for its large antlers, is shown in this undated photo. A group is raising funds to create a life-size bronze statue of the beloved elk that died in March.
Kahuna, a Rocky Mountain National Park bull elk named for its large antlers, is shown in this undated photo. A group is raising funds to create a life-size bronze statue of the beloved elk that died in March.

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The committee will partner with the Art Center of Estes Park in its effort to raise the money. The project team anticipates having the memorial created and installed in time for the peak 2023 tourist season.

As of Thursday morning, a GoFundMe site for the campaign had $9,530 in donations.

Estes Park is already home to a life-size statue of another well-known and revered large bull elk, Samson.

Samson was illegally killed with a crossbow on YMCA of the Rockies grounds near Estes Park in November 1995. Two years after Samson's death, he was memorialized with a bronze sculpture that can be seen at the intersection of U.S. Highway 36 and Colorado Highway 7.

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How to learn more, donate

Those wishing to follow along with the memorial project can visit www.kahunamemorial.com.

Those wishing to donate to the memorial can do so at www.gofundme.com/f/KahunaMemorial or send donations to the Kahuna Memorial Project c/o the Art Center of Estes Park, 517 Big Thompson Ave. Unit 245, Estes Park, CO, 80517.

Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at milesblumhardt@coloradoan.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today. 

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Rocky Mountain National Park's famous elk Kahuna to be memorialized