Buttonwood Park Zoo, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, was contacted in late April by a local resident concerning a Red Fox kit. The kit’s mother had been struck by a car, leaving the juvenile an orphan.
Zookeepers determined the kit was blind and could not be returned to the wild. The decision was made to raise the young fox and integrate her into the zoo’s Animal Ambassador Program. The Animal Ambassador Program is an educational tool provided to schools and the community as part of the zoo’s wildlife education initiatives.
Zoo staff have chosen the name Piper for the 9-week-old Red Fox, and she is currently living in the zoo’s veterinary hospital. Staff are working to acquaint Piper with various smells and sounds, as well as training her to walk on a leash.
The Red Fox is the largest of the true foxes and the most abundant member of the order Carnivora. They are found across the entire Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, North America and Eurasia.
Red Foxes are usually found together in pairs or small groups consisting of families, such as: a mated pair and their young, or a male with several females having kinship ties. The young will remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits that are born.
The species feeds, primarily, on small rodents, but they will also target rabbits, game birds, reptiles, invertebrates and young ungulates. Fruits and vegetables are sometimes part of their diets, as well.
The Red Fox has a long history of association with humans. Because of their widespread distribution and somewhat unaffected population, the Red Fox is one of the more dominant fur-bearing animals harvested for the fur trade. They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
More adorable pics, below the fold!