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Is it a moose or an elk in the picture attached? It's from this Wikipedia article. I've always called this animal an elk. Wiki says:

The moose (North America) or elk (Eurasia), Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family.

So these two words are synonyms.

On the other hand, Encyclopaedia Britannica gives the following information:

*Elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis), also called wapiti, the largest and most advanced subspecies of red deer (Cervus elaphus), found in North America and in high mountains of Central Asia.

Moose (Alces alces), the largest member of the deer family Cervidae (order Artiodactyla).*

As you see, these are two different species, the moose and the wapiti (or the American elk).

What is the animal in the picture called?

  • 1
    My rule of thumb is if the antlers have broad flat areas (as in your pic) it's a moose. If the antlers are more "twiggy", it's an elk (or a big deer). May 25, 2017 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


The or in

The moose (North America) or elk (Eurasia)

implies that moose is used in North America, whereas elk is used in Eurasia.

In fact, the article goes on to mention:

Alces alces is called a "moose" in North American English, but an "elk" in British English; its scientific name comes from its name in Latin.

So what you call it depends on the kind of English you follow.

Here in the US, we'd call the animal in the OP a moose. To confuse matters more, in the US, we'd call the smaller Cervus canadensis an elk:

The elk, or wapiti (Cervus canadensis), is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, in the world, and one of the largest land mammals in North America and Eastern Asia. This animal should not be confused with the still larger moose (Alces alces) to which the name "elk" applies in British English and in reference to populations in Eurasia.


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