Zoé the fox had lived a solitary life at Tierart wildlife sanctuary for some four years. But one day in 2016 a fox who looked almost exactly like her came to stay. This new guest was called Frodo. And while staff at Tierart had intended to keep Zoé and Frodo apart for a short time, it seems that their love knew no boundaries.
Tierart is a sanctuary in Germany that helps to rehabilitate and care for a variety of animals. In fact, the organization’s name actually translates from German as “animal and species protection.” In addition to its big cat center, the sanctuary also looks after native species, such as badgers, raccoons and, of course, foxes.
According to Tierart, Zoé came to the sanctuary in 2012 after being rescued from a fur farm. These kinds of farms are designed to rear animals in order to collect their fur and sell them for profit. And while controversial, the practice is still perfectly legal in many countries.
In fact, a 2002 British Fur Trade Association report on fur farming actually stated that there were 6,000 fur farms across various E.U. countries. The same report also estimated that animal fur raised in the E.U. brought in more than a staggering $5.5 billion in revenue between the years 1999 and 2000. Yet not everyone is so excited about the practice.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, PETA is just one organization that campaigns to see fur farms consigned to history. The nonprofit describes fur farms on its website as being “dismal, often filthy places, where thousands of animals are usually kept in wire cages for their entire lives.” It goes on to create a vivid picture of a hellish existence for the animals that live on these farms and then asks the public to go fur-free.
The specific conditions of the fur farm that Zoé the fox inhabited are, however, unknown – as are the details around her rescue. But one thing of note that we do know relates to the color of Zoé’s coat. You see, she is known as a “pastel fox” because, according to Tierart, she is the result of the cross-breeding of a platinum fox and a white face fox, which occurs for the purposes of the fur industry.
Zoé’s particular coloring is extremely rare and is not something that you’re ever going to see in the wild. And while this certainly makes her special, it is also a reminder of her life on the fur farm. It was perhaps partly with this in mind that Tierart was happy to open its doors to the pastel fox.
Zoé lived on her own in an enclosure within the sanctuary for quite some time. That is, until the arrival of a fox named Frodo in 2016. And the amazing thing about Frodo was that he too sported a pastel-colored coat – just like Zoé.
Unlike Zoé, however, it seems that Frodo was not once part of a fur farm. Instead, Tierart believes that he had been a privately-owned pet. “Unfortunately, there are still breeders on the internet who advertise pastel foxes as exotic pets,” Tierart site manager Florian Eiserlo explained to The Dodo via a statement.
Yet if Frodo had been somebody’s pet, Eiserlo said his owner had “simply abandoned” the fox in 2016. For it was during that summer that the animal was seen stalking people’s houses and yards around the Donnersberg area of Germany. And evidently his appearance caused some puzzlement among the local residents.
Reportedly described as a “dog-fox-like” animal by locals, Tierart has stated that nobody initially wanted anything to do with the fox. Somebody, however, must eventually have had the presence of mind to alert the authorities. Yet this development didn’t immediately improve Frodo’s situation.
That’s because it apparently only led to the first in a series of failed rescue attempts. In fact, Tierart revealed that a number of shelters or sanctuaries tried to trap Frodo during this period. But none were successful – until the people of Wildtierhilfe Kaiserslautern stepped up to the plate.
Fortunately, this group was able to capture Frodo and get him off the streets. Tierart wrote that the fox was ravenous when he was first trapped, and so Wildtierhilfe Kaiserslautern fed and nursed him back to health. Frodo was also given some veterinary aid, before being homed at Tierart.
Then, on August 25, 2016, Tierart used Facebook to welcome Frodo to the sanctuary. Interestingly, the caption explained that the fox wouldn’t immediately be introduced to Tierart’s other pastel fox, Zoé. In fact, it seems that the plan had been to wait a “few weeks” before arranging a meeting between the pair.
Although Tierart didn’t say so explicitly, this might have been because foxes are territorial by nature. Foxes have been known to fight for territory – particularly if two males are trying to move in on a female. But whatever Tierart’s initial plan had been, staff certainly didn’t expect what happened next.
You see, the day after Tierart placed Frodo in the enclosure next to Zoé’s, staff found the two foxes snuggled close together through the wires. And so it seemed inevitable that these two pastels would get along. Then, just a few days later, Tierart had them moved into the same pen.
Apparently, the foxes have been the best of friends ever since. “What are the odds that Zoé, a fox initially brought to Tierart from another country, and Frodo, a fox that was kept by humans and later abandoned, would find one another?” Claire LaFrance of animal charity Four Paws USA asked The Dodo.
Eiserlo added, “We hope these two will have a long and happy life together.” And as Zoé is apparently only around seven years old, while Frodo is a sprightly four, that could very well be the case. After all, foxes in sanctuaries such as Tierart can reportedly live up to the grand old age of 14.
There was more good news for Frodo and Zoé in July 2018 too. During that month, Tierart moved the pair out of their original enclosure and into a brand new one. So, not only do the couple have each other, but they also have a fresh new home to explore together.
If you fancy visiting Frodo and Zoé, though, be aware that their home is not a zoo or a wildlife park. In fact, guests can only visit Tierart during certain opening hours, and there must be a member of staff on hand to guide. For now, then, the delightful photos will have to suffice.