Palm Beach Zoo's newest arrivals are 5 Fennec Fox kits. The kits are approximately 7 weeks old, though their exact age isn't known, since they were safely tucked away in an underground burrow until earlier this month when they began to venture out to meet their adoring public.
Fennec Foxes are one of the smallest fox species. Large ears allow the Fennec to hear the movements of its enemies and prey over long distances, which is very important for a desert animal. It can even hear its prey moving underground. Fennec Foxes can be found throughout the deserts of North Africa and the Sinai and Arabian Peninsulas. Fennecs avoid the worst heat of the desert by living in burrows during the day and emerging only in the cool of the night. They dig their burrows at the base of small hills or in other places where moisture is likely to be retained for long periods of time. Despite the desert's lifeless appearance, there are in fact a large number of animal species available for the Fennec to feed on. Scorpions, spiders and beetles make up the majority of the Fennec's diet in the wild.
The Palm Beach Zoo actively participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for fennec foxes and has exhibited the species since 1995. Since then, the zoo has had nine successful births bringing the grand total of fennec foxes on zoo grounds to 13. Initiated in 1981 by the AZA, Species Survival Plans strive to manage chosen species and help maintain healthy, diverse populations that may become self‐sustaining in the future. SSPs also assist with field projects in home range areas, help educate the public, and provide funding for research and reintroduction of animals back into the wild, when appropriate.