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Friday, August 31, 2012

What’s small and white and cute all over?

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications


The arctic fox, of course! Not only can this small, furry fox survive Old Man Winter’s North Pole stomping grounds, it travels across the treeless lands of the Arctic relying solely on its fur coat and snow-burrowed den to stay warm.

Female arctic fox Somer on a snowy day. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo..

Although our two newly arrived arctic foxes never traveled the North Pole, they did trek nearly 1,500 miles from the northwest corner of Minnesota to join Woodland Park Zoo this summer. August and Lily—1-year-old half-siblings—are now making themselves at home in their spacious Northern Trail exhibit, which they share with the zoo’s mountain goats. Though, they’ve learned to keep their distance from mountain goat Wilson after a playful run-in during their first week on exhibit. When the foxes were introduced to their new enclosure, they had to learn their boundaries with the goats and the respectful distance the goats would tolerate. Their young, playful nature leads them to explore and test anything new in their enclosure!


August and Lily on their first day on exhibit earlier this summer. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

During the summer, August and Lily appear distinctly different than they will in the winter months. Their coats remain minimal in summer and are often gray in color. But as the temperature drops, arctic foxes build their thick, white fur coats to lock in body heat and camouflage themselves with the white, snowy landscape of their frozen tundra homeland. Even in the mild winters of Seattle, August and Lily will sport their bright white coats.


Lily's dark summer coat beginning to change for the fall weather. Photo by Jennifer Pramuk/Woodland Park Zoo.

You may remember our elderly fox Somer whose foxy companion Felix passed in December 2011. At nearly 12 years old, she can't keep up with the energy level of her new fox friends, August and Lily. We retired Somer to a behind-the-scenes yard where she likes to rest comfortably and is doted upon by her dedicated keepers.

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