More and more these days, we’re hearing stories of orphaned animals who turn to foster ‘dads’ for help. All kinds of species, from chimpanzees to cats, have been seen forming these tender bonds which challenge the often under-appreciated role of male animals as caregivers. Today I’m delighted to share one such example.
Too Little To Survive Alone, But Would He Imprint on Humans?
“A one-week-old baby red fox was found by the side of the road by a family,” Joan Campbell of the New England Wildlife Center explains. ”His eyes were not open yet. At first, our hospital staff were not sure if he was a fox or a coyote because he was so young.”
“Our veterinarian Dr. Cartoceti was concerned about the baby red fox imprinting on his human caretakers,” Joan continues. ”However, another orphaned fox was brought in and both of them were ‘adopted’ by an adult male fox!”
Would The Pack Remain Together in the Wild?
When they were all healthy and strong, the three were returned to the North Shore of Massachusetts and wildlife staff held their breath as they waited to see evidence of the pack’s continued bond.
“When they were released, the male and the older kit ran off immediately,” Joan explains. “This little one was unsure of his surroundings at first. He was still for a while, but then he slowly made his way to the other two who were waiting for him!”
When You Find Young Wildlife
Please be advised that if you find a newborn wild animal alone, it may not be in distress. Often the mother is off collecting food and she will return. Unless there is imminent danger, you should resist the temptation to move young wildlife. It’s best to safely observe from a significant distance and it could be hours waiting for the mother to return. When in doubt, call a professional wildlife rehabilitator for advice.
In any given year, the New England Wildlife Center cares for more than 2,000 injured and orphaned fox, bats, rabbits, hummingbirds, snakes, ducks and more. Learn more about their work here. And if you have a wildlife rescue story and photos to share, click here.
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