There are two main reasons why I have an annual pass to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park:
1 – I don’t have to try to get my money’s worth whenever I go.
2 – Not all critters are out at all times of the day or all days of the week, so on any specific visit I might see something that I haven’t seen before, or perhaps get a better picture.
The Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) is a great example.
This little one is located in the children’s zoo at the San Diego Zoo. Since I never had (never wanted) children, I used to never go into the children’s zoo. One day I did and found all sorts of interesting critters that are not in the “adult” sections of the zoo. Now I always make a trip into the children’s section to see what’s new.
The Fennec Fox rarely is visible, preferring his little hideaway hole in his exhibit area. This time he was just laying out on that pad and watching me. I told him I was going to make him an Internet star; I’m sure he heard me with those big ears but he just looked at me with those little eyes. Meh.
The Fennec Fox is the smallest of the world’s foxes. It lives in the sandy Sahara Desert and surrounding areas in North Africa. They are nocturnal, which helps them deal with the desert heat. And if you’re wondering why such a small fox as such big ears, it’s the better to hear you with…. Actually, their large ears radiate body heat to help keep them cool. Their long, thick fur insulates them during cold nights and protects them from hot sun during the day. They also have hairy feet which act similarly to snowshoes, protecting them from the hot sand.
Fennec foxes live in communities of about 10 individuals in underground dens. Males mark their territory with urine and are quite aggressive when mating season arrives.
They are opportunistic eaters, which I guess one has to be if one lives in a desert, preferring plants but also eating rodents, eggs, reptiles, and insects. As with most desert dwellers, the fennec fox can go long periods without water. Little is known about the status of wild fennec fox populations; I mean, who wants to live in the desert for an extended period of time studying little critters that live underground?