There's a point to this terrifying fox costume — it helps save fox kits' lives

Richmond Wildlife Center staff wearing a fox mask and feeding an orphaned kit.
The Richmond Wildlife Center said in a Facebook post that their staff had to don a fox mask so that the orphaned kit doesn't "become imprinted upon or habituated to humans."Richmond Wildlife Center
  • Wildlife center staff in Virginia had to dress up like foxes while taking care of an orphaned kit.

  • The center said they didn't want the kit to "become imprinted upon or habituated to humans."

  • The center's staff are also trying to "minimize human sounds" when interacting with the kits.

A staff member at a wildlife center in Richmond, Virginia, had to put on an unconventional get-up while caring for an orphaned baby fox.

On Tuesday morning, the Richmond Wildlife Center posted a Facebook video of a staff member feeding a kit while wearing a furry fox mask. In the video, the kit rests on a fox stuffed toy while the staff member feeds it with a syringe.


"It's important to make sure that the orphans that are raised in captivity do not become imprinted upon or habituated to humans," the center said in a Facebook post, explaining why staff had to dress up like foxes.

"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 post continued.

The staff member featured in the video, Melissa Stanley, told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday that the kit had been brought to the center on February 29.

Stanley, who is also the center's executive director, said a man had found the kit while walking his dog. The newly-born kit still had its umbilical stump attached when she was admitted.

"The goal is to release animals back into the wild, not only to give them a greater chance of survival, but to recognize their own species and to reproduce to carry on their wildlife population," Stanley said, adding that center staff takes turns to feed the kit while wearing the fox mask.

The wildlife center told the AP that the fox kit will soon be transferred to the Animal Education and Rescue Organization, where it will eventually be released back into the wild.

This isn't the first time wildlife staff have had to mimic the appearances of the animals in their charge.

Biologists in Wisconsin have been donning crane costumes so that the chicks they care for don't imprint on them.

And over in China, staff at a panda reserve had to wear panda costumes doused with panda urine and feces when interacting with pandas to make the bears' transition to the wild easier.

Read the original article on Business Insider