Tommy the elk heading into mating season at the North Carolina Zoo

ASHEBORO, N.C. -- Zookeepers at the North Carolina Zoo say fall is prime time for their male elk named Tommy.

Out on the prairie, this time of year is called the rut or mating season.

In the spring, male elk shed their antlers. They grow back over the summer and reach full height in the fall. The antlers grow a bit larger each year until the males reach adulthood at 7 or 8 years old.

Tommy is 7 this year, and he looks impressive standing among the other elk and bison at the zoo.

Male elk also become more aggressive during the rut.

Zookeepers say the males' personalities change as they try to "impress" the females with their abilities to protect the heard.

Shannon Smith shows us more in this week's Zoo Filez.