Each fox arrived with a tragic story.
Slowly, Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre in Manitoba nursed three kits and an adult female back to health — together.
And now, this makeshift family is taking its first tentative steps to return to the wild the facility announced on social media Thursday.
But first, back to how these unusual family bonds were formed along with some beautiful photos the centre took of the journey.
In May, the centre brought in an adult female fox infested with mange.
Then came a baby fox, which escaped a fire that destroyed her den near Fisher Branch.
“The property owner monitored her for some time in the hopes her mother would return, however after watching the little one cry out for mom for some time, he knew she needed someone else to step in,” the centre explained. “One of the firefighter’s brought her back to our centre and we set her up in a room with branches, trees and other toys for her to play with.”
Then, the centre admitted a male kit found starving new Dauphin.
They placed him in a small enclosure so he could regain his strength before placing the babies together.
“Foxes are highly social animals who build strong relationships with each other,” the rehab centre added.
Then a third baby arrived.
“In early June they were joined by the third kit who was found by his dead mother’s side on the highway,” the facility added.
Meanwhile, that adult female fox with mange was healthy and strong enough to become a foster mother to the three youngsters.
“All four of them were moved to an outdoor enclosure where they had plenty of space to run, dig and play together,” the facility continued.
Their temporary digs included natural materials designed to resemble their natural habitat.
They are even acting like wild animals — hiding behind walls and branches even with officials bring them food.
It means, the centre suggests, the kits have learned from their surrogate mother.
Now, they are in a “soft release” enclosure where they will stay for the next two weeks. Humans will limit their interaction.
“Our four foxes have begun the first stage of their release back into the wild!” the centre announced Thursday.
Soon, the door will be left open, allowing them to venture off into the wilderness at their own pace.
The centre will monitor the site to see if the foxes keep coming back for food — and hopefully, after a few days, they will be off on their own for good.
Our four foxes have begun the first stage of their release back into the wild! 🦊 As you may remember from an earlier…Posted by Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre on Thursday, August 27, 2020
Photos: Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre/Facebook