Tiger elk are massive creatures; a full-grown male is as tall as a human at the shoulders and can weigh nearly 1,000 pounds (454 kg). Their head and front legs are feline in structure, but their torso and hind legs resemble that of an elk. Thus they have both front paws, and hooves. The coloration of a tiger elk is striking, as the fur is a rich, burnt orange in hue with sleek, vertical black stripes following the supple lines of its back. Their tails are uniformly black, with hair growing from the bottom of the dock. They also have light-colored fur along their underbellies, elbows, and beards. The males of the species have considerably thick manes and grow antlers, which they do not shed. While extremely rare, tiger elk may also display completely white coloration. The eyes of a white tiger elk are blue, as opposed to the standard amber of a normal tiger elk.
Tiger elk are omnivores, and will forage for many plants that grow in the forest, as well as hunt small creatures for prey, seeming to prefer bamboo shoots and fish above other kinds of food. While they tend to travel in herds, since their population has declined to the point of near-extinction it is not uncommon to see only a solitary mating pair migrating through the forest. When the females are ready to give birth, they will branch off from the herd in order to seek a den or a nest where they can raise their young. Once the calf has been weaned, the cow will return to the herd with her offspring. Twins are not uncommon. The males can be extremely aggressive, both towards other males of their own species, with whom they often spar during mating season, and any human foolish enough to wander into their marked territory. Tiger elk are migratory, but only within a set range, which is nonetheless expansive, often extending for hundreds of miles. They are uninhibited by water and are strong swimmers. In the past, tiger elk could be found from the swamps along the south coast of the Earth Kingdom, the grassland plains south of Ba Sing Se, and even the south-east islands. However, because of growing human populations and stress caused by hunting, the tiger elk’s range was eventually restricted to Lan Forest, which became its sole habitat.
Tiger elk are considered to be the distant relatives of cat deer.
Tiger elk are extremely fast, and can run at 25mph (40kmh) for extended periods of time, with short bursts of speed up to 45mph (73kmh).
The only known domesticated member of this species is Taruk, the tiger elk trained by Sen.