Baby Fennec Fox born at the Syracuse Zoo

Moose, a fennec fox born at the Syracuse Zoo

Moose, the son of Rhiona and Copper, is the newest Fennec Fox at the Syracuse Zoo.

Moose was born on March 23. At that point he weighed only 40 grams, about as much as eight quarters. Nearly two months later, the staff says he is about half-grown at 455 grams. To put it into perspective, he is about the size of a pomegranate.

The zoo says the baby fox, or kit, will be kept off the exhibit until he is weaned. He is being hand-raised by zoo staff in order to ensure he gets all the nutrients he needs, and grows as he should.

"Hand-raising this kit will habituate him to close contact with humans, helping him to become a confident and well-adjusted adult," says Ted Fox, Curator and Zoo Director at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

He says the more comfortable the babies are with their caretakers, the more often they will have babies.

"One of our big challenges is to make the animals comfortable enough to reproduce and raise babies," says Fox. "It's so important to send them to other zoos and it's a big part of our mission to bring people close enough to see the animals up close, and interact with them."

Moose has three other siblings at the Syracuse Zoo - Todd was born last April, and Pumpkin and Peapod were born last August. Another sibling, Vixey, is living at the Phoenix Zoo. They were the first Fennec Foxes to be born at the Zoo in 20 years.

Fox hopes the other siblings will be able to go to other zoos eventually as well, so that other people can enjoy them.

Fennec foxes are native to the deserts of North Africa, Sinai, and the Arabian Peninsula. They are nocturnal and thrive in the heat of the desert environment.

They have ears similar to bats that act like natural air conditioners, sending heat away from their bodies. Fennec Foxes have long, thick hair that keeps them warm through cold nights, and protects them from the beating, hot sun during the day.

Even their feet are hairy, serving as a barrier against the extremely hot sand in their native desert environment.

When they reach their full size, Fennec Foxes weigh in at about two pounds, or two and a half pounds.