‘Doctor Dolittle’ seeks to honor rescued elk with statue

‘Doctor Dolittle’ seeks to honor rescued elk with statue

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‘Doctor Dolittle’ seeks to honor rescued elk with statue

Lee Kemper, referred to as a real life “Doctor Dolittle,” raised an elk nicknamed Annie from the time it was found as an orphaned baby in 1989 and now that Annie is on her last legs, Kemper is seeking to memorialize her with a life-sized statue.

Annie, who is 29 years old and stricken with arthritis, is said to be the longest living domesticated elk in the U.S. It has far outlived the life expectancy of normal elk, which is about 12 years.

Lee and Molly Kemper live on a llama ranch in the mountain town of Estes Park, Colorado, where they were approached by wildlife officials who were seeking a home for Annie. They agreed to take in the elk, and Lee developed a bond with the animal.

“I love her to death,” Lee told ABC Denver 7. “She’s like one of my kids.”

In an interview with KDVR, Lee described Annie as a loving animal, a sweetheart, and said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen when she passes away, but I’m going to miss her.”

Which is part of the reason for the statue.

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He approached the town of Estes Park about the possibility of creating a statue in the elk’s honor, and the community embraced the effort.

“I’d like to have a bronze made of her down in town,” he told ABC Denver 7. “And I’d like to see it done in my lifetime.”

Neighbors created a GoFundMe page to help raise funds. In part, it read, “A Loveland, Colorado foundry has been selected and a design/bust will be started by January.”

It would be the second elk to be memorialized in Estes Park, located at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park. A bronze statue of Samson, a bull elk who was illegally killed by a poacher in 1995, is on display in town. Samson had become a mascot of the community.

Top photo courtesy of Lee Kemper. Second photo courtesy of KDVR.

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