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Introducing Tigli our new Arctic fox! He came to be a companion for our red fox Seraphina, and he may be cute and adorably fluffy, but this good boy comes with some challenges which will slow track his journey to becoming an ambassador.

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Welcome to Animal Wonders.  I'm Jessi and I am passionate about animals.  Over the last 11 years, Animal Wonders has been rescuing animals who need a permanent home and a safe environment under the care of experienced humans.  We've recently taken in a young Arctic fox and I'm really excited to introduce you to him.

(Intro)

This is Tigli, and while he's incredibly handsome, he's full of challenges, but I'm ready to take on those challenges to give him a better life.  I hope that by sharing what we're going through, it will give you a better idea of what goes into building a trust bond with an animal that isn't friendly to humans by nature.

Tigli will be a year old this coming spring and as you can see, he's already full grown and has a glorious coat of white fluffy fur.  Arctic fox kits start life with short grey fur and are weaned at nine weeks old.  They mature quickly and begin preparation for the rapidly approaching winter by putting on weight and growing in their thick fur, but no matter how fluffy and adorable Tigli looks, he's not a pet.

When he first arrived at Animal Wonder, he was tolerant of humans being in his general space, but he was nervous and very scared of being touched.  By watching his body language, it's clear when he's communicating that he doesn't like something.  He'll stop what he's doing, hunch down and give you a side-eye, and then he'll either move away quickly or he'll growl and try and bite.  

These are basic fear responses that many canine species will express when they're uncomfortable with a situation.  Because Tigli is fearful of humans, I'm in the very beginning stages of establishing trust and it's definitely a challenge, but I'm looking forward to the future when he no longer sees me as a threat and will hopefully view me as a potential treat dispenser.

I first came across Tigli when he was being advertised online to be sold as a pet.  I was on the lookout for possible rescues that might be compatible with our red fox Serafina to provide her with companionship for the future.  Serafina's lifelong companion Cas, an almost nine year old Arctic fox, is showing his old age and has several medical conditions that will prevent him from living as long as Serafina does, so we're preparing for Cas' inevitable last day and Serafina's future well-being.

Now, there are quite a few places that sell fox kits as pets, but it's mostly red foxes and fennec foxes and many times people buy a kit and love it at first but when the fox matures and starts exhibiting adult fox behaviors, they are no longer wanted and end up in a rescue, nature center, or zoo.  So knowing the general temperament of Arctic foxes as opposed to red or fennec foxes, I knew the situation with this fox being sold as a pet, especially as old as he was, was not going to end well for the fox or for the people who got him, thinking he would be a fun and exciting pet.

Since arriving, Tigli has gone through a quarantine.  We treated him for a really nasty infestation of ear mites, and he's been successfully introduced to Serafina and Cas.  I'm still working on building his trust in me and it's come with some challenges, but I'm glad he's here and wasn't sold as a pet.

I know that with time and the right approach, we can find a path to mutual respect and trust, but many people looking for a pet wouldn't have the experience or desire to have a pet in their home that could inflict the kind of harm a fox could.  

Now, I've worked with many animals that have a severe fear of humans.  Some were previous pets that were abused and learned that humans would hurt them, and some were injured wildlife that had a healthy fear of humans and saw me as a potential predator, so while I'm not perfect, I am experienced and I'm ready to take on the challenge.

Tigli is scared of humans, so I'm using several forms of reinforcement to help him feel calmer and less fearful of me.  My goal with Tigli is to teach him that I'm not a threat and that good things happen when I'm around.  Right now, we've gotten to the point where he will willingly come close for meals.  I've even gotten him to take treats off of a bent knee and also my flat hand.

The biggest challenge comes when I try to touch him, which is why I'm also focused on turning my touch into something he tolerates.  The straightforward approach of using food reinforcement does not work very well with him because he's actually food possessive, so feeding him creates less calm behaviors, so one of the ways I'm working on touch training is using negative reinforcement.  This does not mean what most people think it means.  In training terms, the word 'negative' means to take away, so the term 'negative reinforcement' means to take something bad away so the animal is rewarded or feels good.  In this case, I'm that bad or scary thing, so when Tigli shows calm behavior, he's rewarded by me taking my presence away.  This way, Tigli learns that when he's calm, he feels good and the best way to get an animal to repeat a behavior is if they feel good after doing it.

Another way I'm working on touch training is to show him that when I do touch him, nothing terrible happens, and in fact, he has a good time.  By repeatedly proving to him that he's fine after being touched, I'm essentially putting money into his trust bank.  Eventually, the trust bank account is full and we have a nice, rich trust bond, so every day, I work on rewarding him with treats when he willingly comes close.  I reward him with space for being calm when I come close to him, and I reward him with adventures outside every few days when I carefully pick him up, put a harness on, and take him for a walk.  

So enjoy Tigli the Arctic fox enjoying the snow on this beautiful crisp, cold day.  

(montage)

Tigli is a wild animal by nature, meaning he's not domesticated.  He was born into captivity and we're going to do our best to give him a home where he can live stress-free and be an ambassador for his species for years to come.  Thank you for watching and a big thank you to our supporters on Patreon who help us continue making videos to share and educate about these animals.  If you would like to join our team, you can head over to patreon.com/animalwonders, the link is below.

Thanks and I'll see you next week for another animal adventure.  Bye!

(Outro/Credits)