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Tigli came to Animal Wonders in the winter of 2019 to become our red fox, Seraphina's, new companion. Learn what happened to him and what the future now looks like.

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders!

I’m Jessi, and this is Seraphina the red fox. It’s been a bit since I gave an update on the foxes, so I wanted to fill you in on everything that's been happening.

The biggest news that I want to share today is what happened with Tigli the Arctic fox, who we got last winter. It’s kind of a long story, and I do like to share details because that’s how I’m able to help others learn from our experiences. Seraphina wants to get down and run now, so I’m going to let her do that while I explain the situation. [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC].

Animal Wonders has two foxes that we’ve had since 2011:. Cas the male Arctic fox and Seraphina the female red fox. Cas has been showing signs of old age-related health issues, and almost two years ago he was diagnosed with cancer and his back leg needed to be amputated.

He recovered well and he’s still hanging in there for now, but Seraphina will most likely outlive him by many years. Seraphina is an active and social fox, and for her best quality of life, she needs companionship. So we started looking for another fox that needed a home and might be a good match for her.

So we took in Tigli last winter, and since he’s a male Arctic fox, we had high hopes that they would be a good fit since that’s what Seraphina is used to. Unfortunately, and it’s really sad to say this, but it didn’t work out with Tigli for several reasons. First, Tigli came to us not well handled, so he was really uncomfortable being touched by humans.

This made it challenging to be around the foxes as much as we usually are, because he was just so on edge whenever we were close. We also couldn’t get him out on walks as often as the other foxes, so he just had a lot of energy to burn. We tried to solve this problem by giving him lots of toys to toss around and rip apart, which he loved.

He also really loves sticks and bones, so there was plenty of chewing going on, too. Now, at first it seemed like all the foxes were getting along. The introduction went great - no signs of fear or aggression - and the living situation was easy going.

But as the weeks went by, Tigli became more and more possessive of toys, food, objects, and spaces. Now, this is a pretty normal behavior for foxes, so it wasn’t a huge concern. Just something that we noted.

And then we noticed that Cas was spending more time in just one corner, which also didn’t seem super odd since he is getting slower and less active due to his age and disability. And we also noticed Seraphina was spending more and more time inside, up on the highest perch available. The only part of this that struck me as unusual was that she wasn’t spending as much time with Cas as she usually did.

Now after four months of the three foxes living together, we came in to see that Seraphina had been injured and was bleeding. She let me pick her up for an examination, and I could see that the blood was coming from her tail. I could also see that Tigli had blood on his cheek, and Cas was sitting in his corner just fine.

Sera’s tail wound was so bad that we couldn’t stop the bleeding, so I wrapped it up the best I could and rushed her into the vet. Under general anesthesia, we were able to see the full extent of the wound. There were multiple bite wounds, some small and quick and others deeper, and it looked like Tigli had held on, which caused some pretty awful tearing to occur.

Seraphina needed 16 stitches to get her all put back together. But she was able to come home that day on medication to prevent pain, swelling, and infection. And of course, she had to wear the dreaded cone to keep her from messing with it.

Once home, it was the waiting game. We had our fingers crossed that it wouldn’t swell too much, causing her to lose circulation into the last half of her tail, which would mean she might need to have it amputated. Luckily, she healed perfectly, and after a few days she was able to move her tail again.

She actually wags her tail when she’s happy, and it was such a good thing to see. She started to perk up more each day, and she really enjoyed cozy blankets and some good neck massages. After a few weeks of a textbook recovery, she was ready to get the cone off and be reunited with her best buddy, Cas.

Here’s some footage that we got of her getting her cone off for the first time. And she was so patient getting it off. I had attached the cone to her harness so that she couldn’t slip her head out of it, which she’s really good at.

And you can see that she really appreciated the body and neck massages. It must have felt so good to get that off. Seraphina and Cas are closely bonded, so we wanted to keep them housed close during her recovery period so that they could smell and hear each other through the door.

When they were finally reunited, Cas was super excited to see his friend, but in usual Seraphina fashion, she smelled something good and was completely focused on it. She gave Cas a quick greeting before turning her attention to finding where the good smell was coming from. It was an old bone that Cas had buried and left weeks ago.

And now Cas has joined us for some outside time, too! He’s been working hard at getting rid of his winter fur and into his cool summer coat. You can see he’s definitely showing his age with his old man eyes and wispy fur.

And you know, the older a fox gets, the more difficulties they have shedding their thick winter fur. Okay, let’s jump back in time a bit and get back to our story. As soon as we discovered Seraphina had been injured, we moved Tigli into a separate enclosure in case something set him off and he hurt Cas as well.

I don’t know what made Tigli go after Seraphina’s tail. Maybe it was because she was sitting up high with her tail hanging down and he was acting playful? But the extent of the injury leads me to think it was more aggressive than playful.

And looking back on how he had become increasingly territorial in the weeks leading up to the event makes me think he wasn’t happy with his situation and possibly viewed Seraphina as competition. Or maybe their personalities just didn’t mesh, which can absolutely happen. The reality is that we can never know what an animal is thinking.

We can only guess based on the behavior that we see, and then do our best to provide them with the care they need to thrive. When it comes to nutrition or environment, it’s easier to know what those needs are because we can base them off their natural habitat. But knowing the social needs and wants of an animal is much harder to figure out because individual personalities play a big role in it, and that’s just not something you can control.

So now we had to make the decision on what to do moving forward. I wasn’t comfortable trying to reintroduce Tigili to Cas and Seraphina, so that left us with two options: housing him separately, or finding a new facility that could take him in. I continued to work with Tigli on his target, touch, and harness behaviors.

But even though he continued to progress in the training, it became clear that he was not enjoying any of it. He just doesn't like being that close to humans. And since one of our goals at Animal Wonders is to have our animals become ambassadors for their species by giving public presentations, I just didn’t think Tigli would benefit from staying with us.

I really wanted him to be happy and allowed to thrive, which meant it would be best for him to not be handled by humans. So I contacted a wonderful animal facility and asked if they would be able to take him into their care and give him what he needed, knowing his history. And they said yes!

So after a couple of months to make the necessary preparations for him, Tigli moved to Texas to live at the Oak Creek Zoological Conservatory. There he has a nice big area to run around in and logs to climb on and chew. It’s a great place for him to be because he’s able to get his needs met without having to have hands-on interaction.

My favorite part of his new space is that they have an air conditioned room that he can go chill in if he gets too hot in the Texas heat. He’s loving his new home, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s so happy. So while I wish it would have worked out between Tigli and Seraphina, it’s just part of the reality of working with animals.

You can’t always know what’s going to happen when you take in a new animal. And you can’t make two individuals like each other no matter how many times you tell them they would just be happier as companions. This is one of the reasons why it’s so challenging to do rescue work.

You just never know who’s going to come through the door next, and it’s your job to make the best out of whatever situation comes your way. I’m glad that Tigli is in a good place, and I’m glad that Seraphina is completely healed and back to her gorgeous self. And I’m also really glad that Cas is still with us and that he and Seraphina have each other.

We are still looking for a solution to ensure Seraphina’s continued well-being. So if a situation presents itself for us to take in another fox that could possibly be compatible with her, then I’ll let you know! Thank you for letting me share our experiences with you.

There’s always something going on here, so if you’d like to continue learning about animals and going on adventures with us, make sure you’re subscribed and I will see you next week. Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].