Hunter was born on May 6, 2013 at a facility in Minnesota. She arrived at Wolf Park with her two littermates, Gypsum and Ifa ten days later. She was always the smallest of the three, and the last to transition onto the bottle for feeding. She quickly established herself as a favorite for many of her caretakers. Her adorable small size and sweet nature often made her a sought after companion for naptime. From early on one of her preferred sleeping places was lying on the end of legs, it was not uncommon to find her curled up at the bottom of someone‘s sleeping bag. Growing up, Hunter sometimes played the sidekick to her brother and sister, but that didn’t stop her from showing her unique personality from time to time! A lot of people thought she was a shy individual, rather she would bide her time and wait for an opportunity to get what she wanted without having to give anything at all.
Once during crate training (not one of her favorite games), Gypsum and Ifa were entering and exiting the crates and earning their rewards. However, they were so excited to repeat the behavior and earn another reward that they would often run out of the crate, drop the treat, and head back in. Hunter would patiently wait for this to happen and then pick up the treat so she could gain a reward without having to put any effort into the training session at all.
Hunter was the loyal sidekick to both of her siblings. She and Ifa would often curl into the same box together to wait out a rainstorm. In the summer, they would never be too far away from one another on their favorite hammocks on the jungle gym in the back third of the enclosure basking in the sun and watching their brother’s antics. Whereas Ifa would sit back and watch Gypsum, Hunter would follow along with his ideas to a point.
When Gypsum and the red foxes, Scarlette and Joker, would fence fight, Hunter would be right behind him, albeit not for as long of a time. Hunter also mimicked Gypsum quite a lot and missed him when he had to be brought inside for his surgery. When he returned to the fox den, she was able to pick up his signature move “what’s up” very quickly and would charm people out of their treats with a dainty chin-up.
Hunter was receptive to her environment and was often aware of small changes in her environment. This allowed her to be an exceptional hunter. Although we don’t intentionally feed small prey at Wolf Park, if something wandered into Hunter’s path, it was not a good choice for that creature.
After the sudden loss of both of her siblings, Hunter spent a little over a year alone. We learned that she couldn’t tolerate the coldest winter nights and had to bring her inside to sleep with her human friends. In May we were able to find two grey fox kits, Kestrel and Lark, to join Wolf Park as animal ambassadors. Having more grey foxes on-site, caused quite a change in Hunter. Her mood change was dramatic—she was more interested in meeting people, being seen on tours, engaging with the public for longer periods of time. She also enjoyed her time with the kits as long as they listened to her cues (which they did MOST of the time) and allowed her to touch them first.
On the evening of Friday August 23, Hunter started acting not quite right. However, it was decided that she might have eaten too much of her meal too quickly. The next morning at meatballs, Hunter was acting oddly and staff decided to call the veterinarian. Hunter was taken to the clinic and needed an ultrasound. She was diagnosed with pancreatitis and fought valiantly for 5 days, but ultimately succumbed the morning of August 28th surrounded by her human friends. Wolf Park will never be the same without the first litter of Grey Foxes to come and live here for the short time that they did.
We are starting a new tradition within the Wolf Park Fox Program, and would like to have our ambassador’s lives impact their wild cousins/counterparts.
It’s important to remember what we can learn from our individual Wolf Park ambassador friends and how we can help animals in the wild. While grey foxes aren’t currently a threatened species in the United States, their wild cousins, the Channel Island foxes, are facing some challenges. We are collecting a memoriam donation in honor of Hunter for an organization called the Friends of the Island Fox. You may donate to this organization in her name on your own or send the donation to Wolf Park and we will pass it on for you. We will be collecting donations until September 30th, 2019. To donate through Wolf Park, visit the Wolf Park Online Store Donate Section and write “Hunter Memoriam” in the notes.
For those of you who were one of Hunter’s sponsors, please note that a mailing with further details was sent to you and is on its way if you have not already received it. We appreciate everyone who valued Hunter as much as we did. She will be missed, but never forgotten.