May 20, 2020

Contributed
Libby is a 1-year-old female red fox who was born without a tail, which left her unwanted by the fur farm industry.

Contributed Libby is a 1-year-old female red fox who was born without a tail, which left her unwanted by the fur farm industry.

KEY LARGO — Marred by slight imperfections, red foxes “Libby” and “Louie” were recently deemed unwanted by a Midwest fur farmer. To save them from certain death, longtime animal advocate Nicole Navarro stepped in to rescue the pair as part of her Key Largo-based nonprofit, Pawsitive Beginnings.

Red foxes, despite their name, aren’t necessarily red. Red is the most common color with dark “stockings,” but red fox coats can range from light yellow to deep auburn red, or be black or silver.

Libby, short for Liberty, is the 1-year-old female. Her fur is a creamy pale yellow like the inside of a potato.

Fortunately for her, she was born without a tail which landed at her new Keys home a short time ago.

Contributed
Louie’s dark gnarled ears saved him from becoming winter garb.

Louie is slightly darker in color with gnarled ears, dark rimmed eyes and stockings. It was those ears that saved him from becoming winter garb.

“These are little genetic defects which make their pelts undesirable,” Navarro said.

While Navarro is still working to gain the trust of both animals, she hasn’t been able to pet them. She said the foxes will be shedding their winter coat soon, which she estimates to be about 2 to 3 inches thick.

Underneath the lush fur, red foxes are tiny in size. Both Pawsitive Beginning foxes weigh less than 10 pounds.

“They’re in the canine family, but they act more like cats. They’re aloof and elusive, and about 95% of the time, they use litter boxes,” Navarro said. “They like to stay clean, which is a stark contrast to how they were kept while at the fur farm, and they’re finicky eaters. They pick what they want to eat. They’re really into blueberries.”

Libby and Louie are fed at dawn and dusk a diet of raw meat or poultry with veggies and fruits. Foxes are mostly nocturnal and very active at dawn and dusk. That’s when they play pretty hard, according to Navarro.

They run around at full speed and jump all over the place. Then they go down for a nap, and tend to sleep all day while Navarro watches over.

“They bark at night,” Navarro said. “It’s a crazy noise. It’s like a woman screaming and it can be loud.”

Navarro first fell in love with two silver foxes named “Rocky” and “Lana” about three years ago when she started volunteering at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm after Hurricane Irma. That’s when she said she knew she had to rescue foxes.

“The international fur trade kills millions of animals in the world,” according to Sienna Martz, PETA’s clothing campaign coordinator. “There are roughly 400 fur farms in the U.S., and of those, there are 56 fox fur farms in 10 different states. Nicole saving these two foxes is significant because this horrible industry is still going on in our country.

“Rampant abuse is an industry norm for fur farms. Animals are confined to tiny wire cages, where they spend their entire lives before they’re horrendously killed while there are plenty of eco-friendly faux-fur options.”

Sustainable faux fur mimics the properties of fur without the cruelty to animals or the environmental devastation, according to PETA, and many top fashion brands and companies around the world are now using high-tech and innovative faux fur materials.

And while the fur trade still exists there are two little red foxes who are slowly warming up to the Florida sun, life outside their crates and rescuer Navarro.

For updates on the foxes or for more information on Pawsitive Beginnings, follow them on Facebook.

tjava@keysnews.com