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Animal Defenders International

ADI exposes hidden UK trade in fox cubs as wildlife photographer sought to buy fox cub

Posted: 26 July 2013. Updated: 30 July 2013

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In a disturbing turn of events, ADI has exposed the truth behind last Friday’s feel-good story of the ‘fox and hound’ and uncovered a hidden trade in fox cubs in the UK.

The tale of how Rosie the fox cub and Maddy the terrier were the “best of friends”, rather than the archetypal foes they are portrayed as, no doubt brought a smile to the face of many readers of the Daily Mail and Express, and other media outlets, but it set alarm bells ringing with ADI.

Wildlife photographer Richard Bowler, who ‘took in’ the fox cub and took the photos that accompanied the story, was quoted as saying Rosie had been “abandoned as the lone survivor of her litter after her father killed the rest”. ADI believes that this is highly unlikely – foxes rarely attack and kill offspring, and when they do it is the vixen (female) that kills an insubordinate vixen’s offspring, not her own.

If this story is indeed true, then the responsible thing to do would have been to take Rosie to a wildlife rescue centre, where she could have been rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Instead, Mr Bowler took the fox into his home for ‘training’ thereby consigning her to a life of captivity, denied the opportunity to perform her natural behaviours and live with her own kind.

Mr Bowler appears to have big plans for Rosie, by using her commercially to provide photographers with the opportunity for a deceptively ‘wild’ shot, which would be difficult to obtain other than in captivity. On Mr Bowler’s website it states that photo shoots of Rosie will be offered in the near future.

ADI’s research reveals Mr Bowler appears to have had plans to procure a fox cub for some time. On the Exotic Keepers Forum on 30 September 2012 he writes “I was wondering if some one could help. I’m looking to find a breeder of Red foxes in the UK. I’m setting up a wildlife photography business on our small holding n North Wales offering clients the chance to photograph captive bred native animals in natural environment. I realise that it would be late spring/summer before any cubs would be available but would like to make contact, join a waiting list before then. Any help would be most welcome. Richard Bowler http://www.richardbowler.com”. Someone called Mark64 responds on 8 April 2013 “Hi Richard I may be able to help phone [mobile number] regards mark”.

We wonder whether Mr Bowler ordered Rosie from Mark64 or one of the many other suppliers that advertise fox cubs and other wild animals online. Her story is certainly not what it seems.

What appears to be a good news story is sadly anything but; Rosie has, apparently, been taken from the wild and held captive so that she can be used as a photo prop. This is no life for a fox, denied the normal, social and mental stimulation that she would enjoy in the wild.

Sadly, although many of us enjoy seeing images of beautiful animals, often the reality for them is far from idyllic. Many are kept in captivity, and during training they may be denied food, water or affection. Next time you see a cute animal photo, please think twice about what life is like for the animal, behind the lens. Animals should not be made to suffer for our entertainment.

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