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Meet Little Moose, Rosamond Gifford Zoo's Newest Fennec Fox Kit

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County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney joined New York's Rosamond Gifford Zoo staff to introduce their newest Fennec Fox kit. Born on the afternoon of March 23 to parents Rhiona and Copper, he weighed approximately 40 grams (that's less than a hard-boiled egg). Regardless of his diminutive size, he was named Moose! Today, at just about two months old, he's half-grown at 455 grams. Mahoney said, “It’s great to see yet another testament of the zoo staffs’ dedication to furthering animal conservation and protecting endangered species.”

Ted Fox, Curator and Zoo Director siad, “Fennec Fox parents are very cautious and elusive during the kit rearing process. Due to their acute hearing and sensitivity, reproduction of Fennec Foxes in a zoological setting is a challenge. Hand-raising this kit will habituate him to close contact with humans, helping him to become a confident and well-adjusted adult.”

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Photo Credit: Photos 1,2: Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Photo 3: CNY News

Fennec Foxes are found throughout the deserts of North Africa and the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas. One of the smallest of canines, Fennec Foxes are well built for their natural habitat. Their nocturnal habits help them survive in the searing heat of the desert environment, and some physical adaptations help, as well. Their distinctive bat-like ears act like natural air conditioners, radiating heat away from their bodies, and allowing them to hear the movements of predators and prey over long distances. They have long, thick hair that insulates them during cold nights and protects them from the hot sun during the day. Even the bottoms of their feet are hairy, which acts as a barrier against the extremely hot sand in their native desert environment.

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"One of our big challenges is to make the animals comfortable enough to reproduce and raise babies," says Fox. "It's so important to send them to other zoos and it's a big part of our mission to bring people close enough to see the animals up close, and interact with them."

This is the fifth kit born to the parents. Moose's older sister, Vixey (born last April), resides at the Phoenix Zoo. His other siblings, Todd (born last April), Pumpkin and Peapod (born last August), are currently on exhibit at the zoo. As part of the zoo’s Species Survival Plan (SSP)—a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival —the siblings may be relocated to other zoos in the future. Moose will remain off exhibit until he is weaned, which will be within a week or so. 

Fun fact: A male fox is called a reynard, the female is called a vixen, and the baby is called a kit. A group of foxes is called a skulk or a leash.