Wildlives Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre
Many of the foxes admitted to Wildlives have long-term problems, so although the numbers of foxes admitted are low in comparison to, say, hedgehogs, foxes take a lot of time and work.
Most are admitted as orphans, for some form of injury, or for sarcoptic mange. Casualties that require constant attention will be housed in the Wildlives hospital. However, because the hospital tends to be
busy - and foxes (as with all wildlife) are susceptible to the effects of stress - they will be transferred into one of the outside pens as soon as possible. The fox pens are further from the hubub of everyday routine, so foxes can recover in peace. In 2005, these pens were fitted with electricity and infra red heating so sick foxes that need a heat source can be housed there.
Foxes brought to Wildlives will be routinely blood-tested, and provided with all necessary veterinary treatment. Adult foxes will be housed individually (although the fox pens themselves are in close proximity), but cubs may be housed together in order that they may play together and learn off each other.
Wildlives has a no-euthanasia policy. We are loathe to put to sleep any creature that has some chance of recovering and enjoying some quality of life afterwards. As a result of this policy, we have foxes that live here as permanent residents. Maggie, Saffie and Gilbert were all brought in suffering from toxoplasmosis. In each case, the disease had progressed to an extent that they had sustained irreversible damage and would not have survived if released back into the wild.
Maggie is Wildlives' oldest resident fox. She was brought to Wildlives in 2000, and at that point was estimated to be about two years old - so she is now approximately eight years of age. She was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis and canine infectious hepatitis. She was both blind and deaf at the time of her admission. She was also pregnant, but miscarried not long after - something that can happen as a result of toxo.
In time, she recovered both her sight and her hearing. However, she spent a lot of time circling and had no fear of people. With the exception of a short period during the breeding season when she comes into oestrus, she is placid and friendly with volunteers. She would not survive on her own in the wild.
Every year, Maggie is introduced to a new generation of fox cubs. They always seem alternatively ecstatic and blissfully happy to see her. Maggie's reaction is slightly less enthusiastic, but she seems content enough to have them dogging her footsteps and curling up with her to sleep.
Saffron was brought to Wildlives by the RSPCA in October 2004, after being found collapsed. Her strange behaviour alerted Rosie to the possibility of toxoplasmosis, and she was sent to the vets for tests. They came back positive. Originally it was thought that, with treatment, Saffie would recover and could be released but, although her physical good health returned, her neurological problems did not go away.
She now lives with Maggie, with whom she gets on well. Unlike Maggie, Saffie sleeps in the long grass most of the day and becomes very active at night - more like a wild fox. However, she remains docile and unwary of people (and dogs).
Gilbert was brought to Wildlives by some people who used to put food out for him, and who were concerned because he seemed unable to use one of his rear legs. He was taken to the vets, where it was found that his femur was broken. However, because the break was an old one, and had already started to calcify, the vet decided to leave it. In addition however, the neck of the femur had snapped. The vet removed the femoral head completely, and Gilbert returned to Wildlives to recover.
He had a disconcerting habit of following volunteers around though, and rushing eagerly to the boundary of his enclosure every time one of the dogs walked past. A strict no contact policy was enforced to try to 'wild him up', and once his leg was healed, an attempt was even made to release him. He refused to go however, and once again he was brought back to Wildlives.
It was thought originally that Gilbert may have become too familiar with the volunteers. However, he was quite a ditzy fox, and finally Rosie had him tested for toxo. Once again, the tests came back positive, and so Gilbert has become a permanent resident.
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