GRANDFATHER MTN, N.C. – Grandfather Mountain is getting ready to welcome three new residents to its wildlife habitats.

Three male elk will be living in the non-profit’s newest habitat, former home of the now deceased white-tailed deer that was the park’s sole resident.

The four-month-old calves come from a private elk farm and breeder in Central North Carolina which the Grandfather Mountain Foundation has not yet disclosed.

According to the Foundation, elk aren’t all that new to Grandfather Mountain

It’s been hundreds of years, but the animals used to rule the lands as shown in the names of some of the High Country towns and landmarks, like Banner Elk, Elk Park and Elk River Falls.

Over-hunting and loss of habitat in the 18th and 19th centuries caused the species to be eradicated from the region.

To welcome the elk back into their native environment, the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is having an Elk Naming Contest for the three calves from November 17 through December 6, 2017, as a way for the public to engage with the newest residents.

Photo by Skip Sickler | GMSF

— Grandfather Mountain (@GrandfatherMtn) November 29, 2017

The competition takes place online, and contestants can submit name ideas for the three elk calves with a $3 donation.

The names will be selected by habitat staff, and the winner will receive a pass for four to Grandfather Mountain including a complimentary Behind-The-Scenes Tour.

Among some of the names competing so far are "Buddy the Elk" and "Elky McElkface."

The elk are expected to arrive by mid-December.

"Many of our guests love to visit Grandfather Mountain year-round, and they seem to share a sense of ownership when they come back. They genuinely care for the mountain and our animals. So, with the addition of elk to our herd, we thought it would be fun to let them suggest some names, while contributing toward the elks' well-being and future at Grandfather Mountain,” said Frank Ruggiero, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

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