Derek is partnering with the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, and another local artist, on an art project this year. Through this work, we have learned a lot about the Arboretum, and all that they have to offer to the public, including their work in animal conservation, and their animal ambassadors.
The Arboretum houses a collection of animals native to eastern Tennessee, all of them unable to be released into the wild, for different reasons. Many of these animals are used in educational programs for children.
They also have a red wolves rehabilitation program, where they are trying to reintroduce red wolves back into the wild. Some of the red wolves are unable to go into the wild, and call the Arboretum their forever home. Red wolves are critically endangered. As part of the program, they also breed red wolves with the intent of “cross fostering” where the bred pups are raised by a wild red wolf and her wild pups, and will grow up wild.
As a late birthday present, we scheduled an animal encounter with Toddy, the red fox.
Males are called tods, hence the name “Toddy.” Females are called vixens, and young cubs are called kits.
Toddy is five years old, and he came to the Arboretum when he was just five weeks old. He was rescued from an “exotic” animal auction.
We got to watch Toddy eat his mid-morning meal, comprised of meat, peanut butter, peppers, cat and dog food, and scrambled eggs. We both got to feed him some of the scrambled egg!
Red foxes always have a white tip on the end of their tail and black “socks.” They have elliptical pupils, like cats.
A red fox like Toddy typically weighs about 14 pounds in the summer, and up to 17 pounds in the winter, due to all of the extra fur!
He was very excitable and energetic. He was running and jumping all over the place. At the end of our encounter, he curled up in his dog carrier for a nap.
After our time with Toddy, Tish, the Director of Wildlife, gave us a quick peek at all of the other animals. We saw a bobcat, a black vulture, an opossum, a one-eyed owl, a turtle, a hawk, and an eagle. I would love to do an animal encounter with the opossum in the future!