ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The young elk featured in a viral video playfully head-butting an Asheville photographer has been put to death.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported the elk was euthanized Friday after the Oct. 20 YouTube video, which was viewed more than one million times and featured on national news shows.
The video shows the elk head-butting James York, who was sitting along a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park taking photographs. York was not injured.
Smokies spokeswoman Dana Soehn said the decision to put the elk to death was a first for the park. Park officials said the elk was a problem before approaching the photographer.
Soehn said the elk had lost its fear of humans after being fed by visitors. She said the animal had demonstrated dangerous behavior that could result in human injury or death.
York, the photographer in the viral video, said he is “truly saddened” that the elk was put to death.
“I was really looking forward to watching him grow up,” he said. “I felt like I bonded with him. I am crushed that he’s gone. I was looking forward to his rack getting bigger and maturing into a bull.”
Read more: The Asheville Citizen-Times