Fox Encounters are now a part of our Animal Adoption Program. To find out more information how you can meet Calvin and Hobbes, or help support any of our other wildlife residents, visit our Animal Adoption page here.
In this 60 minute program you will meet Calvin and Hobbes, The New Children’s Museums two Fennec Foxes. Animal Curators will tell you everything you wanted to know about Foxes, from native Connecticut species to the smallest fox in the world. Learn about fox social structure in the wild and how different they are from your dog at home. Get a close up look at a fox skull and learn why they need those sharp little teeth.
A group of up to 6 participants will be seated in The Wildlife Sanctuary while the Fennec foxes are allowed to run around the room. The foxes do not approach people but may be observed at close range as they interact with one another and exhibit interesting behavior patterns. The foxes will be given “treats,” but it will be up to the foxes if they want to eat them. Bring your own camera and feel free to take pictures of the foxes during the encounter. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection regulations do not allow for members of the public to pet or handle the foxes or any member of the “canidae” family.
How the Fennec Foxes came to live at The Children’s Museum
When is a foxhound not hunting foxes? When she’s raising them as her own. That’s the compelling story of Momma, a rescued foxhound that nursed a litter of four baby fennec foxes born to a mother who was unable to do so. Momma was located with help from Greenwich-based Adopt-a-Dog by Marcella Leone, owner of the LEO (Lionshare Educational Organization) Zoological Conservation Center, who had bred the baby foxes.
“This is such an extraordinary story, we want to share it with our visitors,” said Robert Griesmer, President and CEO of The Children’s Museum. “It fits in perfectly with the mission of the museum’s Wildlife Sanctuary, which provides a home for animals in need.”
Shortly before the fox pups were born at LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, Ms. Leone began looking for a lactating dog to act as a surrogate, as the foxes’ own mother lacked the mothering instinct. Volunteers from the two organizations networked and located Momma at a kill-shelter in North Carolina, and she was brought back to Connecticut by Adopt-A-Dog. Shortly after her arrival with her own just weaned puppies, Momma was nursing the baby fox pups, despite the breed’s natural inclination to hunt and kill foxes. Allyson Halm, president of Adopt-a-Dog, was happily surprised at the success of the pairing. “The irony that it ended up being a foxhound was pure coincidence,” said Ms. Halm, who was at The Children’s Museum with Momma. “I was amazed—it was very sweet.” The dog bonded with the fox pups, who are now weaned. One of the pups has gone to the Metro Richmond Zoo in VA and another will go to Safari West in Santa Rosa, CA.
Fun Facts about Fennec Foxes
- The fennec is a Small nocturnal fox found in North Africa.
- The name “fennec” comes from the Arabic word for fox.
- The fennec is the smallest species of canid in the world.
- The fennec fox weighs about 1.5–3.5 lb
- Its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground.
- The fennec has a life span of up to 12 years in the wild.
- Its main predators include the caracal and the African varieties of eagle owl.
- When content, they make a sound much like purring in cats.
- Families of fennecs dig out dens in sand for habitation and protection.
- Precise population figures are not known.
- The fennec is currently not threatened by extinction.
- They have enormous ears (up to 6 inches long) which are used to dissipate body heat to allow the fox to cool off in their natural environment.
- They also pant very rapidly when hot. Conversely, they will often shiver (as a means to warm up) if it drops below 68 F (20 C).
- The soles of its feet are protected from the hot desert sand by thick fur.
- Much remains unknown of their basic ecology and behavior in the wild
- An individual can jump up to 2 ft (61 cm) high and 4 ft (120 cm) forward, which helps it catch prey and escape predators
- Fennec foxes are commonly trapped for sale to the pet trade and for fur by the human population of Northern Africa.