Australia's Taronga Zoo welcomed three Fennec Fox infants, the first to be born to a new breeding pair from Europe. The kits, which are just starting to emerge from their nest box, were born on December 19, 2012, a year after the zoo introduced their parents, Zinder and Kibali, a new breeding couple from Europe.
Carnivore Keeper Tamara Bell said, “Any new arrival is special, but what makes these Fennec kits even more important is that they’re the first offspring born to Zinder, the male who came from Germany, and Kebilli, the female from Poland. This means that these kits are not related to any of the Fennec Foxes here in Australia.”
Aside from expanding the genetics in the Australasian region, the young Fennec Foxes have also provided a boost to the captive population of the species, which dropped to only six throughout Australia prior to 2010.
Fennec Foxes are the smallest of the canines, growing up to only 16 inches (40 cm) and weighing up to 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg's). Their distinct feature is their large ears that dissipate body heat and keep them cool. Commonly found in the deserts of Sahara and North Africa, Fennec Foxes are burrowing animals that dig tunnels as deep as 15 feet (4.5 m), where their kits are reared.
Read more about the kits, and see more pictures, after the fold:
“We saw them emerge from the nesting tunnel last week, which was quite early. Today, we watched them scamper out into the big wide world and explore their exhibit for a brief moment,” Bell said. “They are becoming braver and bolder every day.”
Because Zinder and Kibili are both first time parents, keepers are taking a very hands-off approach and letting them settle into their parenting roles. As a result, they have not yet been able to check if the babies are boys or girls. As soon as they do, during their first veterinary health check in February, the kits will be given names.
Bell added, “At least one female in the litter would be wonderful for the regional breeding program, but we’re just delighted to have three healthy kits.”