The UK's Drusillas Park in East Sussex is currently debuting its second litter of Fennec Foxes in six months. The twins (one male and one female) who are not yet named were born on July 23rd and are thriving under the watchful guidance of proud parents Mali and Tabari. They have now taken their first steps and are just starting to explore the environment outside the nest box.
The arrival of the young foxes represents a real achievement within the zoo community. Surviving cubs are rare generally attributed to the sensitivity of the parents to any disturbance, leading to a significant mortality of newborns within this species.
In the wild fennec foxes inhabit the Sahara desert of North Africa, where they are threatened mainly due to hunting for their fur and the pet trade. They are the smallest member of the dog family and have distinctive oversized ears which can grow up to 15cms long.
Mali and Tabari were introduced at Drusillas in November 2009 as part of a breeding programme coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
The recent arrivals are the second litter the pair has reared in less than six months, following the birth of triplets in March. This was not only the first time this species had been successfully bred at the Park, the triplets were also the first cubs to be born in Europe in 2010 and the only surviving cubs in the UK since 2008. To experience the birth of twins in such close succession is exceptional and testament to the natural parenting skills of the foxes, as well as the care and dedication of the Drusillas zoo keepers.
Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “I was shocked and delighted when our Head Keeper called me to say we had baby fennec foxes again. It is so unusual for fennec foxes to rear one, let alone two litters in a year.”
Head Keeper, Mark Kenward added: “The babies are doing really well. In the first litter there were three females; this time we have a male and a female. They have just started venturing out and exploring the enclosure with their older sisters.”