Gypsum was born at a facility in Minnesota on May 6, 2013. Ten days later, he arrived at Wolf Park. Along with his sisters, Ifa and Hunter, they became the first socialized grey foxes at our facility. Even at that early age, with his eyes barely open, he was already climbing up shirts and curling up on shoulders.
He was the favored sleeping companion by almost all who assisted in raising the kits. He was an amazing snuggler. He was also a little thief, so it was important to clear out pockets before he had a chance to investigate them. This continued throughout his life. He even managed to nab a set of car keys and cache them. Over his first few months of life he had a tendency to play hard and sleep hard. It was not unusual for him to be carried, sound asleep, like a baby back into the nursery after a big day outside.
Gypsum was shy of crowds, and often displayed the typical elusive nature of grey foxes during open hours. He had a select group of humans that he loved. For those lucky few, he enjoyed licking the inside of their noses, cuddling, and receiving belly rubs. During sponsor visits and seminars, he would come out and sit on his “safe stones” and watch. Eventually he would work up enough “brave juice” to approach close enough for someone to toss him a treat.
Gypsum’s social circle was small, but his personality was mighty. The world was his to conquer. He once threatened Kanti, who was so frightened that he ran away and hid behind Bicho. Gypsum was convinced wolves were easily defeated ever after. He absolutely loved his walks. That is often how he connected best with people he didn’t know.
He lived life to the fullest. In the fall of 2014, Gypsum tried to swallow a mouse whole and got it stuck in his insides. The wonderful team at Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital removed it. Gypsum spent several months inside recovering from his surgery. His human friends kept him entertained with toys, strange foods, and books on tape. It was during this time that he developed his signature “What’s up” move – a nod that was captured when he pushed his cone up allowed his handlers to continue to work on relationship building with him.
Even though he enjoyed both of his siblings, he was exceptionally close to Hunter. They were never far from one another. Whenever one came back from a walk, there would be instant face greeting. We put face greeting on cue with “bisou”, the French word for little kiss, as the cue signal.
On Monday, April 2, Gypsum started acting not quite right. He had been dealing with a lot over the weekend (tours, kids) and we let him sleep. On Tuesday, he didn’t get up for medication rounds. We checked on him, and he just wasn’t his perky self. He didn’t want scrambled eggs (a favorite food) and, after a physical exam, and there was a concern about his stomach being tight. We took him into the clinic for a check-up but that was inconclusive. The game plan was bland diet, fluids and re-assess over the next 24-36 hours. We kept him inside. Kimber and Dana spent a lot of time watching over him. On Tuesday night, Gypsum went downhill and was in a lot of pain. We took him back to the clinic Wednesday morning, and the decision was made to do exploratory surgery. There was an odd mass that had started leaking fluids and his internal organs weren’t healthy at all. The only humane choice was to say good-bye. Even though he had a small social circle, Gypsum had a mighty personality and will be greatly missed.