The afternoon was cold, so cold you could see your breath. It was beginning to get dark. Everyone was quiet, excited, and hopeful. We were waiting…and hoping…and then all of a sudden, “There! There he goes!”
Within a few short seconds the fox darts out of his cage, over a fence, and onto the bluffs. Yes! He is free again, given a second chance to live in the wild thanks to the efforts of the Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC).
This story began eight weeks earlier in the late summer, with a local fox that consistently wandered a city park along the Scarborough Bluffs. He made untold numbers of visitors to the park “ooohhh” and “ahhhhh” as he strolled around the benches, plants and trees. He possessed an untamed beauty with his brilliant red coat, black sock legs and bright eyes.
One day someone noticed that something had gone terribly wrong with the fox. His eyes were shut and crusty, his ears tattered, and he had grown skinny with patches of fur missing. The fox was in significant distress. We know now that he had contracted mange, the common name for contagious skin diseases caused by parasitic mites. Though often fatal in the wild, mange can be treatable with early medication.
TWC was contacted. With help from rescue team leader Andrew Wight, a trap was set up to catch the fox. For several days, up to four times a day, the trap was checked with no success. To the team’s dismay it wasn’t long before the fox earned its sly reputation by figuring out how to manoeuvre through the trap, grab the chicken bait, and take off without getting caught. No match for the TWC staff, however, a few modifications to the trap resulted in the successful capture of the ailing fox. He was quickly taken back to the TWC rehabilitation facility to begin his treatment.
After just eight weeks of help the fox was once again healthy and ready to be returned to the wild. Animal lovers and TWC volunteers gathered together at the site where the fox was captured to witness the magical moment of freedom as the fox was set free. The fox knew where he was and didn’t waste any time getting over the park fence and down along the Bluffs.
While this wonderful moment will stay with me the rest of my life, I can’t help but be saddened by the knowledge that most of Toronto’s injured wildlife will never receive the help they need, mostly because people aren’t aware of the services of the TWC. If you see an injured or sick animal please don’t walk away. Call for advice. You can make a difference by adding the TWC, 416-631-0662, to your contact list and telling your friends to do the same. The TWC is the only agency that takes care of our city’s beautiful creatures.
Recently TWC learned that they are going to be losing their home to demolition at the end of 2012. Take a moment to visit the website to learn more about what they are facing, at torontowildlifecentre.com.