We already know that there's a fox on the loose at Wildling and that he's busy at work creating new shoes. But not long ago, he received some unexpected company, which has been wreaking havoc in the fox's den for several weeks now: Four orphaned fox cubs have temporarily moved in with Wildling founder Anna and her family and are now allowed to grow up together in an enclosure built especially for them until they are ready to be released into the wild.
How exactly did that happen? Well, it’s relatively easy to explain – since Anna loves animals. Always has. When she was considering how she could advocate for them in the context of her company, one thing was clear: Wildling will support wild animals – ideally foxes. And that’s how she found out about Thorsten from frecherfuchs.de, who rescues orphaned or injured foxes and other wild animals, nurses them back to health, and then reintroduces them into the wild. Since then, Wildling has sponsored a number of foxes every year.
As part of his wildlife rescue, Thorsten’s work also has an educational component. For him, it’s a matter of personal importance to help people understand that foxes, as wild animals that are frequently misunderstood, should never be taken into captivity. That’s why he raises the animals he finds with the least possible contact to humans. The ultimate goal is to reintroduce them into the wild as soon as they are big enough or healthy enough. Before every rescue, he also makes sure that the cubs really are on their own. To do this, he sometimes observes a fox den over a period of several days or sets up a camera to see if the mother returns.
Unfortunately, Thorsten’s resources are finite and he can’t personally take in every fox in need of rescue. That’s why every year he launches an appeal and mobilizes people who have the time, desire, and space to build an enclosure in their yard and rear some cubs.
Since Anna has some more time this year because of cancelled events and because she is at home quite a bit, she agreed to help, and just three days later she was contacted. “We have three cubs from Lahr and a female fox from Cologne. Can you take them in?”
The challenge then was to build an enclosure for the little ones as quickly as possible, and since there's actually a lot more to that than you'd imagine, it's a good thing Frecher Fuchs also provides detailed instructions on how the enclosure should be built and what material is best suited. To make sure that the foxes could move in with the Yona family as soon as possible, Anna mobilized the Wildling team and with Gerhard and Christian's help, an escape-proof enclosure was built in a flash using aviary wire.
“I never would have imagined how incredibly skilled foxes are at climbing and breaking out of places.”
Then the time came for the first three foxes to move into their new, temporary home. Heidi, the female fox from Cologne, joined them a little later. At first the cubs were quite restless and needed a while to get used to their new surroundings – it’s no wonder with so much excitement and a totally new environment. In the meantime they have started playing together, making plenty of racket – especially at night – and generally behaving like young, wild foxes. And they’re cute.
“Sometimes it takes all the restraint I can muster not to talk to them,” revealed Anna, who feeds the cubs daily. The menu includes fruit, cat food, chunks of meat, and sometimes a dead chick to help the little ones learn to strip prey. “At the moment they’re more likely to play with it and bury it somewhere. When I’m cleaning the enclosure and they turn up again, it’s definitely a reunion of mixed emotions.”
Apart from feeding the foxes and cleaning the enclosure, Anna doesn’t enter the cubs’ domain since they’re not allowed to grow accustomed to her in any way. Talking to them is not allowed either − to avoid false habituation or imprinting on humans, which would make reintroduction into the wild more difficult. It’s kind of tough with these adorable little fur babies though. Fortunately, the enclosure can be viewed well from several windows of the house without disturbing the little ones.
The foxes will stay with Anna and her family until late summer, when they will move to a larger reintroduction enclosure in the forest. After they have become accustomed to their new surroundings, the door is simply opened up one day so that they can go out on their own. The enclosure then continues to serve as a sanctuary for them, where they can still find food if they haven’t managed to hunt right away. Besides that, foxes generally like to return to the place where they grew up. So even after they’re able to stand on their own four feet, they’re always somewhat close to Wildling.
If you want to learn more about foxes, their way of life, and Thorsten's work, you can find a wealth of information at frecherfuchs.de.
Thorsten from Frecher Fuchs and Helga from Tieroase Stefanshof were kind enough to share some fox pictures with us so that the little Wildling cubs can enjoy their peace and quiet in the new enclosure.
Anna, Ran, the Wildlings, and the fox cubs