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Recreating Nature Indoors

Ever wonder who made the dioramas in our mammal halls? Read all about the artists who created these wonderful scenes. Learn more >

The Making of a Diorama

The Habitat Views video considers ways of looking at dioramas today, and documents the creation of several new displays. Take a look over on our  YouTube channel >

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California wapiti or tule elk

Cervus elephus nannodes (Merriam, 1905)

Tule elk diorama in the North American Mammal Hall


 Kern River, near Taft, California

Background artist:

 J. Robert Sewell

The tule elk, which is also known as the California or dwarf elk, is the smallest elk in North America Tule elk are indigenous to California and once lived in large numbers in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. Protected populationas are now found in the Owens Valley and at Point Reyes National Seashore. Elk from these reserves have been successfully transplanted to establish a few free roaming herds in other areas of California.

Biological Information

Range map for the tule elk


Owens Valley and Tupman refuge


Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, near rivers and lakes. Diet: reeds, sagebrush, nettles


Almost wiped out by gold prospectors in the 1840s; now present in three reserves in California and are no longer considered endangered


Reeds, sagebrush, nettles.

Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for elk.