Thoughtless tourist nearly kicks elk in face posing for photos at Grand Canyon

Cow elk at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A tourist has been caught on camera almost kicking a cow elk in the face while striking a pose at the Grand Canyon. The elk was quietly feeding from a tree, seemingly unbothered by the number of people nearby, until one woman strode up and attempted an extended hand to big toe yoga pose, barely missing the animal's snout as it turned to see what was happening.

The resulting video, which you can watch below, was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, which highlights bad behavior at sites of natural beauty – often involving wildlife.

Other recent incidents have involved two men sprinting away from an angry cow elk after disturbing her calf, a bull knocking down a phone-wielding tourist at Yellowstone, and another biting a boy's fingers in the Rockies when he tried to feed it.

In fact, there have been so many reports in recent weeks of people disturbing animals, the National Park Service (NPS) issued a statement earlier this month reminding people to keep their distance and show respect for wildlife. 

"Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in some cases, their survival. When an animal is near a campsite, trail, boardwalk, parking lot, on a road, or in a developed area, leave it alone and give it space," said the NPS.

"Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death."

If you're not sure how much space to allow, try closing one eye, extending your arm, and giving the elk, deer or bison a thumbs-up. If you can completely hide the animal behind your thumb, you're fine to continue watching provided the animal doesn't spot you and change its behavior.

For more advice, see our guides how to enjoy elk rutting season safely, how to avoid being gored by a bison, and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).