How a Ruppell’s fox from Kuwait landed in New Jersey
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July-August 2013:
FORKED RIVER, New Jersey––Cleopatra, a three-legged Ruppell’s fox who survived a dog attack in the Kuwait desert, arrived on June 3, 2013 at the Popcorn Park Zoo, operated since 1977 by the Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey as a care-for-life sanctuary for wild animals who have become habituated to humans.
Ayesha Al-Humaidhi, founder of the Kspath humane society in Safat, Kuwait, thought immediately of the Popcorn Park Zoo in January 2013, when she realized Cleopatra could not be returned to the wild. ANIMAL PEOPLE introduced Al-Humaidhi to Associated Humane Societies president Roseann Trezza, who called Popcorn Park Zoo director John Bergmann, who said yes, the Popcorn Park Zoo could take Cleopatra, but completing the arrangements took four months.
“The owner of the dogs [who mauled Cleopatra] retrieved her and took her to a local veterinary hospital, who contacted us,” Al-Humaidhi recounted. “The vet hospital felt they might be able to save her leg, increasing her chances for release,” but the effort failed. “Once the leg was amputated,” Al-Humaidhi continued, “we did not feel it was feasible to release her, considering the harsh and challenging environment that Ruppell’s foxes live in even under the best circumstances. She healed beautifully,” but the only habitat for her at Kspath was a modified raptor flight cage. Ruppell’s foxes, who are primarily insectivores, live six to seven years in the wild, but have lived longer in zoos. The Popcorn Park Zoo is noted for having housed several animals of exceptional longevity, including Bengali, 24, believed to be the oldest tiger on record, and Bonnie, apparently the second oldest deer on record.
Bengali died on January 18, 2013 after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from his pancreas. Reportedly bred and raised to be shot at a Texas hunting ranch, Bengali was transferred to a sanctuary near the hunting ranch in 1990 after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service cracked down on illegal “canned hunts.” Bengali came to the Popcorn Park Zoo after the Texas sanctuary failed in 2003. Bonnie, 22, died on February 26, 2013. Only Elizabeth, 24, a whitetailed doe kept at the Deer Ranch in Michigan 1977-2002, was known to be older. The nest oldest deer on record were Holly, 22, 1990-2012, of Mountfitchet, Scotland; her mother, Clover, 1985-2006, who was recognized as then the world’s oldest deer by the Guinness Book of Records in 2005; and Filene, a 20-year-old mule deer doe who is still alive at the Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo, New Mexico.