Reynard the Fox: shrewd and devious, even perfidious and violent. At least, this is how he is portrayed in the well-known, Low German, medieval epic “Reynke de vos”. Both a human tragedy and an animal comedy, all of our vices and bad habits are exemplified here in anthropomorphic animals, with such familiar figures as Noble the Lion, Isengrim
the Wolf and Bruin the Bear.
I have got to know quite a different side of this animal: incredibly playful, trusting, and perfectly gentle, at least as a cub. The only signs of aggression were levied towards our cats and dog at the feeding bowl.
Several years ago, whilst out jogging with my parents’ dog, a German boxer by the name of Uranos, I came across a fox cub, barely three weeks old, in the middle of the woods. She sat on the wayside, still bleary-eyed and quite lost, and whilst she didn’t exactly delight in our arrival, neither did she object. I could no longer restrain my four-legged companion as he made a beeline for the little thing, whose tiny head was barely smaller than the rest of its body. The wee mite, at that moment showing no sign of fear, was given a good sniffing by Uranos, and so naturally I was obliged – or so I persuaded myself – to take the baby fox home with me. After all, it could have been carrying diseases which had now been transmitted to Uranos, and so the little canid needed to undergo the appropriate medical examinations. I was met back home with surprise and scepticism. “Now what has he gone and dragged in with him?” Whilst it was my first fox, it wasn’t exactly the first time I had brought a representative from the animal kingdom home with me. However, the scepticism vanished in a trice, as no one could resist the incredible charm of this little animal. She was warmly welcomed by everyone, our collective maternal instincts were awoken, and an appropriate way to administer suitable nourishment was immediately sought. After we had given the whelp its first feed, we set about finding an adequate shelter. In the first instance she had to make do with a guinea pig cage, in which we placed a small cardboard box with a sufficiently large opening. For the time being at least, she was
taken care of.
The first few days we didn’t dare to bring the tiny creature into contact again with our boisterous dog. We carried the little bundle of fluff, and Uranos watched curiously from below in a manner that was hard to interpret. In any case, we wanted to take no risks. However, as is often the way, we became more lax, maybe also braver, and after a few days we let them both out of our immediate control, naturally under our supervision. They both crept slowly and cautiously towards one another, sniffed one another thoroughly, and then to our great surprise, soon became the best of friends. Actually it would be truer to say Uranos became a nanny for Attila, as we named the rapidly expanding fox.
From then on the same daily routine emerged: after mealtime, playtime, then more eating, perhaps a little siesta, playtime again, a further bite to eat and another nap. Uranos barely had a moment’s peace. Attila’s urge to play was so unbridled that the nanny always had to play “dä Lappi” (the clown), as the Swiss German phrase goes.
A telephone conversation with the authorities responsible for wild animals in Kanton Zurich revealed that what I had done was of course illegal. I should have left the fox to die where I found it, came the answer. Having built so tender a relationship with an animal of this kind, such a statement was naturally extremely hard to fathom and take on board. Nevertheless, on the advice of a gamekeeper we made contact some five weeks later with the reintroduction department of Kanton Bern, and with a heavy heart took our new friend there, in the hope that one day she would be released, and be able to live as a real wild animal once again.
At http://youtube/typGsmnSK5w you can find a Youtube clip showing the two playing
Cunning and playful…
Always be on your guard…
The little one being fed for the first time.
Already too big for her box.
Zacharias, the green iguana, is definitely not in the mood for fun and games.
Scepticism is called for…