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Rescuer Wears Fluffy Fox Mask to Safely Care for Days-Old Baby Fox Mistaken for Kitten

The Richmond Wildlife Center is caring for a newborn fox kit after the baby animal was brought to the Richmond SPCA

<p>Richmond Wildlife Center</p> A Richmond Wildlife Center staff member feeding a fox kit while wearing a fox mask

Richmond Wildlife Center

A Richmond Wildlife Center staff member feeding a fox kit while wearing a fox mask
  • The Richmond Wildlife Center is caring for a newborn baby fox that was mistaken for a kitten by the people who found the animal

  • To give the fox kit the best chance of returning to the wild, staff members at the center wear a fox mask while feeding the baby animal

  • The fox mask helps prevent the baby fox from imprinting on her human caretakers.

Staff members at the Richmond Wildlife Center in Virginia are channeling their inner fox to help a days-old fox kit in their care.

On Tuesday, the Richmond Wildlife Center shared on Facebook that its staff members wear a fox mask while caring for a newborn baby fox that recently arrived at the rescue, noting this extra length gives the young animal the best chance of returning to the wild. The center included a video of one of the fox kit's feedings with the post.

According to the organization, the baby fox arrived at the center on Feb. 29 when the female animal was "barely 24 hours old." In a March 1 Facebook post, the Richmond Wildlife Center shared that they learned about the fox kit from the Richmond SPCA.

"Yesterday, we received a call from the Richmond SPCA after they admitted an animal that was first believed to be a kitten that they quickly realized was a neonatal fox kit," the center shared, adding, "Her umbilicus stump is still attached. She weighs just 80 grams, her teeth are not in, her eyes are sealed, and she is deaf at this age."

The Richmond Wildlife Center also shared that the people who discovered the kit handled her with "bare hands," something the organization advised against.

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"Please tell everyone you know to wear proper handling protection when working with ANY mammal," the Richmond Wild Center added on Facebook. "More often than not, rabies does not look the way it is portrayed in the media and movies. In the majority of cases, the animal is not aggressive. They are quite the opposite. In fact, they are quite friendly, sweet, cute and cuddly."

Once the little animal was relocated to Richmond Wildlife Center, the facility's staff started preparing the kit for life in the wild. For the young fox to reenter the wild, it is prudent that the kit doesn't imprint on any humans or get used to being hand-reared.

"We truly need your support to help us get this fox kit back home to the wild with a great chance of wild instincts and survival," Richmond Wildlife Center shared in a Facebook update on March 6.

The post also included a list of donations, including a fox mask, that the center needed to help care for the fox kit safely.

Related: Endangered Red Panda and 86 Other Wild Animals Found Crammed into Checked Luggage at Airport

"Her eyes haven't opened yet, and her hearing isn't developed yet, but we need to be ready for when she opens her eyes," the center wrote in the social media post. "We want the first things she sees to be other foxes, even if we don't have any actual adults or siblings to put her with."

"On our Amazon Wishlist is a stuffed adult Fox and kit so she can pretend to be nursing on the Fox mom and cuddling in her enclosure with her surrogate family. In addition, we have a Fox head mask on our wishlist that we can wear so she doesn't see a human face when feeding. This is critically important if we are going to get her wild," the post continued, adding that the center need the mask and stuffed animals "ASAP."

It appears the Richmond Wildlife Center received the mask they requested because the organization's Tuesday Facebook update on the fox kit included a video of a staff member wearing a fox mask.

In the clip, an individual wearing a furry orange fox mask carefully feeds the kit with a syringe and gloved hands. The baby fox eagerly drinks from the syringe while resting atop a fox stuffed animal.

NBC News reports that the clip is of Melissa Stanley, the center's founder.

<p>Richmond Wildlife Center</p> A Richmond Wildlife Center staff member feeding a fox kit while wearing a fox mask

Richmond Wildlife Center

A Richmond Wildlife Center staff member feeding a fox kit while wearing a fox mask

"Many thanks to everyone who has supported the Red Fox Kit. She is progressing well. It's important to make sure that the orphans that are raised in captivity do not become imprinted upon or habituated to humans. To prevent that, we minimize human sounds, create visual barriers, reduce handling, reduce multiple transfers amongst different facilities, and wear masks for the species," the center captioned the video.

In its most recent update, the Richmond Wildlife Center shared that they are contemplating sending the kit to another facility caring for baby foxes so the animal has the opportunity to grow with her species.

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"We were able to locate fox kits of the same age and weight as ours and are working to determine what is in the best interest of the foxes. If they should be transferred to us, or if we should transfer ours to them. Either way, it's in the best interest of this Fox to get it with other foxes her own age. We will keep you posted," Richmond Wildlife Center wrote on Facebook.

"We were able to locate fox kits of the same age and weight as ours and are working to determine what is in the best interest of the foxes," the wildlife center added.

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