Taronga Zoo has welcomed a new Fennec Fox pair, with a female from Adelaide and male from Germany taking up residence in Sydney.
The tiny foxes, which grow to just 20cm tall, have huge ears that are so sensitive they can hear insects walking on the sand of their North African and Arabian desert homes.
‘Sha’ the female arrived at Taronga from Adelaide Zoo about 12 months ago but has recently been introduced to ‘Zinder’ a male which made the journey from Augsburg Zoo in Bavaria, Germany, recently.
The international coupling was planned to create a new genetic bloodline in the Australasian breeding program for this small canine species.
Carnivore Manager, Louise Ginman, said: “It took us about two weeks to introduce Sha and Zinder. Initially Zinder was very nervous and anxious as Sha is an outgoing little fox, and he’s very timid.”
“They’ve now bonded as a couple and just the other day we saw mating between them, which is definitely a good start to the breeding program,” said Louise.
“Despite Zinder’s shyness, he is very attentive to Sha and if they do have young he’ll have the job of collecting and bringing food to Sha in the early mothering days.”
“Sha loves her food with favourites being mice, fruit and insects.”
Fennec Fox which are the smallest of all canines. They’re a nocturnal animal and our Roar and Snore sleep-over guests have told us that Zinder turns into a little wild thing at night, pouncing and exploring all the areas of his desert-themed home,” said Louise.
In the wild, the small foxes have adapted to their harsh climate, and can go for long periods without water whilst their elongated ears help dissipate the heat and pick up the sound of insects scuttling across the sands.
Fennec Foxes also have thick fur on the bottom of their feet to insulate them from the hot desert sands and to muffle their footfall, making them quieter while stalking their prey.