Posted September 2021
The Zoo is excited to announce that a new pair fennec fox has recently returned to the Small Mammals building! Two males, Artie and Ollie, arriving from the Niabi Zoo in Illinois, are now in their indoor habitat, located on the building’s night side. They’re slowly getting familiar with their new surroundings.
The brothers are 1 year old and considered full-grown. Keepers comment that the fox are very shy and a bit unsure, so they speak softly to them, and are letting the animals get familiar with their caregivers -- taking everything very slowly.
Artie and Ollie get a variety of animal “toys” for enrichment.
Artie and Ollie participate in enrichment, which encourages them to interact with items to bring out their natural behaviors. They’ve been given dog toys, scents, puzzle feeders and live crickets, which keepers say they both use overnight when no one is looking! Soon keepers will be training the foxes to go in and out of a crate and onto a scale, which helps them participate in their own healthcare when necessary.
Artie and Ollie eat a diet consisting of raw meat, vegetables, insects, greens, dry dog food and an occasional mouse.
In the wild, fennec fox are found in North Africa, throughout the Sahara Desert and east to Sinai and Arabia. They prefer sandy deserts and arid regions with desert grasses or scrub vegetation.
They have the largest ears relative to their body size of any member of the canid family. They’re used to dispel heat and track down prey underneath the sand. Heavily furred paws provide traction when running in the sand and while also offering protection from the extreme heat of the terrain. Fennec fox are also capable of going for long periods without consuming water; they’re able to hydrate through the food they consume.
Fennec fox are among the more popular animals at the Zoo and visitors have been pleased to see the species back in the building.