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Conservation

Fox in the Lion City: beast found in Lantau gets new home in Singapore

A fox found eight months ago on Lantau Island finally has a new permanent home as animal rights groups say more must be done to prevent wild animals from coming to the city as pets

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 4:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 5:11pm

A rare species of fox rescued on Lantau Island last year has found a new home in Singapore, prompting calls from local animal rights groups for Hong Kong to do more to combat the exotic pet trade.

The wild animal, believed to have come to Hong Kong as a pet, was found by hikers on the island in July. Since being found, it had been in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Ocean Park, a wildlife theme park.

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It was flown to Singapore on March 13.

The news was announced in an online video released by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on Tuesday that showed the furry black-and-white animal feeding.

“Actually a number of organisations expressed interest in adopting this cute fox. After considering factors such as the husbandry, fox care, experience [and] veterinary support, Wildlife Reserves Singapore is most suitable to be its new home,” the department said.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore manages parks and zoos, including Singapore Zoo. Its parent is Mandai Park Holdings, which is wholly owned by Singapore’s state investment company Temasek Holdings.

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The fox was 45cm (1½ feet) long when it was found. It was unhurt.

Some suspected it had been illegally imported to Hong Kong as a pet before it was released.

It was placed at Ocean Park for quarantine but the park said it lacked the manpower to care for it permanently.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore on Wednesday issued a statement, saying: “The fox has a marbled colouration, which only occurs through selective breeding under human care.

“He was likely a pet that was either abandoned or got lost on Lantau Island.”

It said the animal is undergoing a one-month quarantine, and that it would become an “ambassador” to teach park visitors of the harmful consequences of the illegal wildlife pet trade.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the fox had no problem settling into its new home and thanked the SPCA and Ocean Park for caring for the red fox.

“The SPCA would like to take this opportunity to remind the public once again not to keep any wild animals as pets,” the animal rights group said in a statement.

The group urged the local officials to strengthen laws to prevent similar cases from happening again.

An SPCA spokeswoman said the group would continue to rescue wild animals and hand them over to either Kadoorie Farm in Tai Po or the department, depending on their species.

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Ocean Park said the animal gained 4kg (8.8lbs) while it was in its care and was in good health before its departure.

“The park also sent the fox’s primary care taker to accompany and monitor its health and condition, and to help settle the fox in its new environment,” an Ocean Park spokeswoman said.

She also warned against importing wild animals to Hong Kong, saying such acts could “threaten the survival of native wildlife and spread diseases”.