The Santa Barbara Zoo on Tuesday introduced Beauregard, its latest ambassador, and he appears to be crazy like a fox.
Well, maybe not crazy, but Beauregard definitely is a fox — a Channel Island fox, to be exact.
Beauregard was a pup when he was found by a worker on San Clemente Island, and was cared for by U.S. Navy wildlife biologists on the island, which is used for various purposes by the Navy. The southern-most Channel Island, San Clemente lies about 50 miles off the coast of Long Beach.
As a pup, Beauregard did not learn basic survival skills, so he can’t be released back into his habitat, according to the zoo.
On Tuesday, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Scott Strader and zoo staff released Beauregard into his new home at the zoo. Because of his interactions with humans, he will become an ambassador for the species.
He will be following in the paw prints of Finnegan, a fox born and hand-reared at the zoo who met and inspired thousands of zoo guests before he died four months ago of renal failure.
Zoo officials noted that the zoo and the Navy have a long-standing relationship, and the zoo has previously exhibited other foxes from San Clemente Island. Currently, it has one other fox, Lobo, from Santa Rosa Island.
The zoo is one of only a few organizations that exhibit these small foxes, which are unique to the islands off the Santa Barbara coast. Four of the six subspecies underwent serious population declines, and were added to the federal endangered species list in 2004.
Beauregard was given his name by zoo sponsors Tom and Nancy Crawford.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $14 for adults, $10 for children ages 2 to 12 and seniors age 65 or older, and children younger than 2 are free. Parking costs $6.