I am in love with the domesticated foxes from Russia I read about in a National Geographic magazine article "Designing the Perfect Pet." I have a friend who works in Russia, and he would be willing to look into buying one for me. There is no problem about importation if the animal is vaccinated, I am told. Do you see any difficulties with my dearest wish?
F.M., Washington, DC Jan 23, 2012
I have read this article from the March 2011 National Geographic magazine. The tame foxes, from the Novosibirsk, Russia, Institute of Cytology and Genetics, are being sold to fund the genetic research. The foxes are all neutered to prevent competitive breeding. The suppliers keep some 3,000 foxes in small cages and have bred an estimated 50,000 foxes over the years trying to develop a truly domesticated prototype. These numbers and the evidently poor conditions under which these animals are kept -- documented in Dr. Ceiridwen Terrill's book "Part Wild" (Scribners) -- lead me to question the ethics of continuing these studies. I advise you not to purchase any of these genetically tame foxes until significant improvements in their care are made. I published the lab's earlier findings in 1975 in "The Wild Canids" (Dogwise), and, while the research is of scientific merit, animal care standards of excellence must come first. There are often foxy-looking dogs up for adoption in shelters and online that you might wish to consider. After all, dogs and foxes are distant cousins.
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