One of the most notable residents of Rocky Mountain National Park, known as Big Kahuna, was tragically found dead inside the Estes location earlier this year.

The giant elk lived in the park for more than a decade and was a favorite for photographers to capture on camera. In fact, he was the most photographed elk in RMNP history and one of the largest elk in America.

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Following the elk's sudden death in March, support came pouring in from the Estes Park community, as well as from people all across the state who were saddened to hear the news.

To make matters worse, a few days after Big Kahuna passed, poachers, came into the park and illegally removed the head and antlers from the animal's body. RMNP staff had intended to let the elk's remains naturally return to the earth.

Although Big Kahuna is now sadly gone, the beloved elk will be remembered forever in Estes Park. It was recently announced that a memorial is in the works to preserve the animal's legacy he left behind in the Rocky Mountains.

The Art Center of Estes Park is partnering with the Kahuna Memorial Project to build the public memorial. According to Estes Park News, the Kahuna Memorial Project and supporting committee grew out of social media posts initiated by John Coombs. He gathered a group of photographers, writers, artists, business people, and fellow elk lovers across the country who wanted to see Kahuna’s story live on through a public art installation. The team is all volunteer-based.

The collaborative team is currently raising $150,000 through donations to help build the life-size statue

A location has yet to be determined, but the project team anticipates having the commemorative memorial installed in time for Estes Park's 2023 tourist season.

In addition to promoting education, preservation, and inspiring nature lovers, the memorial will also share the story of Big Kahuna to keep his memory living.

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