Yesterday, Woodland Park Zoo euthanized an elderly, male arctic fox named Feliks.
“After showing signs of decreased quality of life due to his advanced age, the zoo’s animal care and health teams made the difficult but humane decision to euthanize Feliks yesterday,” said Dr. Jennifer Pramuk, curator at Woodland Park Zoo.
Born in the wild, Feliks came to Woodland Park Zoo in 2004 after he was discovered at the Port of Seattle, stowed away on a trash container en route to Seattle from the tiny, remote Aleutian island of Shemya. Judging by the condition of his teeth, zoo experts estimated he was 3 to 5 years of age when he arrived.
The zoo determined that Feliks was not a good candidate for reintroduction into the wild. He was not in the best of health at the time, underweight with ear mites, a skin mass and hind limb weakness. Woodland Park Zoo provided a home for Feliks in its award-winning Northern Trail exhibit, and under its excellent animal care program, gave him the proper nutrition and health care needed to restore his condition and ensure his wellbeing.
“In the wild, many arctic foxes do not live past 3 years of age,” said Dr. Pramuk. “Yet when Feliks was around 3 to 5 years old, he not only survived an unexpected, tremendous adventure, but continued on to live out a healthy life for many more years at his new home at Woodland Park Zoo.”
Feliks, estimated to be 10 to 12 years old, lived in a mixed species exhibit including mountain goats and a female arctic fox, 11-year-old Somer, which remain on view.
The Arctic fox, weighing 6 to 10 pounds, lives in the far north, in the tundra, and coastal areas of North America, Iceland, Greenland, Scandinavia and Siberia. Found farther north than any other land mammal, the arctic fox travels more extensively than any terrestrial animal other than humans. The arctic fox has a gray or blue coat in the summer and a thick, warm white coat in the winter. In the summer, the fox feeds primarily on lemmings, other rodents, fish, birds and even berries. In the winter, it may follow wolves or polar bears in hopes of eating scraps left behind.