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‘Very cute’ foxes and a new tiger join the Hattiesburg Zoo

Hattiesburg American

Biff and Chad have big ears and hairy feet, but that only adds to the cuteness called fennec fox.

Five-year-old Biff and 9-year-old Chad are two of the Hattiesburg Zoo’s most recent acquisitions to make their debut.

The two male foxes are on display in a small building in the Africa exhibit where visitors can watch them through two glass windows.

Stephen Taylor, animal care manager of Hattiesburg Zoo, said the foxes came as a pair from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

“They are very cute, very adorable and very unique,” Taylor said.

Fennec foxes are found in the Sahara Desert in northern Africa, so they are accustomed to extreme temperatures. They are classified as carnivores, but fennecs also eat insects and vegetables.

Fennecs are the world’s smallest fox. They weigh between 1½-3½ pounds and are about 8 inches tall.

Their ears can reach up to 6 inches, which provides them with exceptional hearing. Their ears and furry paws also help them survive. Their ears help them eliminate heat, keeping them cool in the desert heat. Their fur-covered paws keep their padded feet from burning on the desert sands.

“They live in some very tough conditions, in some very hot climates, and it also gets very cold for them, so they are very hardy,” Taylor said.

The fennecs are the first fox species to be featured at Hattiesburg Zoo.

Kipling in, Kuasa out in tiger exchange

On Monday, the zoo took delivery of a new Sumatran tiger. Kipling will join the zoo family following his 30-day quarantine. The 12-year-old spent most of his life at the Dallas Zoo, where he was part of a breeding program designed to sustain the species.

Multiple attempts failed to produce tiger cubs. Kipling is expected to live the remainder of his life in Hattiesburg as an ambassador for his species.

The zoo has another Sumatran tiger, Kuasa, who is 7. Kuasa will be sent to Dallas to join the breeding program when Kipling is ready to be integrated into the Hattiesburg tiger exhibit.

Lora Baumhardt, carnivore supervisor at Dallas Zoo, said Kuasa will join four other Sumatran tigers — three females and one male. She said breeding tigers is challenging, and the Dallas Zoo has not had new cubs in many years.

“They are critically endangered in the wild,” Baumhardt said. “So every tiger birth is important, so hopefully we are going to be able to contribute to the tiger population.”

Kuasa and twin brother, Cinta, had lived together at the Hattiesburg Zoo from March 2014 until Cinta’s death in May 2017. Male tigers typically are not allowed together in the same enclosure.

Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, Taylor said.

The Hattiesburg Zoo previously had a Siberian tiger, Tigger, who came to the zoo as a cub. She was 17 when she died in July 2014.

Read more at HattiesburgAmerican.com

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