On April 13, the Toucan Rescue Ranch received its first 3-month-old grey fox. For everyone involved it was a completely new experience. No one was sure of the future for this little guy.
He had spent a week with firemen, so he was growing dangerously used to humans. The moment he set paws on this place, a plan was set in motion for him to go back to the wild. When I saw him I imagined him running around wildly in his own environment. I was going to do everything in my power to make that a reality.
The plan was decided: as a baby, he needed someone to play around with to encourage instincts. Only two people were chosen to be around him — no one else to avoid desensitization to humans.
Playing was tough — big bites were not punished as we wanted him to be fierce and aggressive. The feeding was not that difficult. Mixing the milk, chicken meat, dog food, insects, and fruits in his bowl was easy — no bottle feeding was necessary. After that we slowly introduced pinkies, little birds, and wild fruits. Hanging the food on climbing structures was also part of daily training for him, to encourage foraging and hunting – he was unable to get food if he didn’t try. When he was big enough, the real training began.
He was moved into a pre-release enclosure. Everyone who went to that part of TRR was instructed to hiss and intimidate him. He grew wary of strangers other that the two chosen caregivers. Feeding him live prey was of great importance. Making him hunt little mice and birds to improve his survival skills was a feat. Hiding live insects and wild fruits around the enclosures was a daily task.
He grew up to be a strong independent fox. Catching him for release was extremely difficult and that is when we knew — he was ready. As one of the only two people allowed to interact with him, I was extremely excited when he was released into the wild. The challenge was complete, the plan worked, and he was free. (Now he would be able to defeat Andross.)