Fantastic Mrs Fox
The Fennec Fox is a small nocturnal creature that resides in the Sahara desert, North Africa. Commonly known for it's large ears and timid personality, the foxes are fan favourites when it comes to zoo life, especially at Drusillas. They are the smallest canine on the planet and can even hear prey moving underneath the ground. But what makes the Drusillas Fennec Foxes so fantastic?
Well our female Fennec Fox, Mali, has been with us for nearly 5 five years and was brought to us as part of a breeding programme coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. She has rasied a total of 7 cubs which you might think sounds normal in captivity, but the odds were stacked against her. On the 19th March 2010, Mali gave birth to her first litter of cubs (triplets) which was our first successful breeding at the zoo. We found out later that they were the first cubs born in Europe in 2010 and the only surving cubs in the UK since 2008! (According to ISIS - Information Species Information System). There are various reasons to why their morality rate is so low but one of the main issues is the sensitivity attributed to the parent foxes. They are very easily disturbed and very nervous, so it becomes hard for a couple to settle into an environment and breed.
Later on that year we celebrated a second litter in the space of 6 months. To experience the birth of twins in such close succession to triplets is truly outstanding and testament to the natural parenting of the foxes, as well as the care and dedication of the zoo keepers. Zoo Manager Sue Woodgate said, "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 one year". Head Zoo Keeper, Mark Kenward, said, "we are watching the behaviour of the group closely and documenting the cubs continued development. To observe these wonderful animals from birth is a huge privilege, which most zoo keepers will never experience throughout their entire career. We hope to use the opportunity so that other zoos can benefit from our experience".
Massive credit must go to our zoo team for preparing the perfect environment for our Fennec Foxes to flourish and breed like they have done. Their care and dedication to all animals in the park is admirable and we are very fortunate to employ some of the best keepers in the country.