Artie & Cooper’s
Arctic fox & red fox
With an ever-present smile, Artie is a happy guy, living alongside his brother-from-another-mother, Cooper. Their antics, BFF-rivalries, and foxy trickery give a completely unique glimpse into the wonderful world of canids with two boys that should’ve never crossed paths.
Each and every canid at the Endangered Wolf Center has a unique story and personal history, yet the narrative of these two foxes is extraordinary amongst our large population. Artie, an Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), was born into the exotic pet trade in 2016 and grew up in a private home, surrendered after his owner faced expensive vet bills. Luckily, Missouri’s Wildlife Rescue Center agreed to rehabilitate Artie and find him an appropriate life-long home. Once we were introduced to him, we readily accepted him into our pack!
Immediately after his arrival, Artie’s charm, playfulness, and stocky build melted our staff’s and our guests’ hearts. Without mincing words, Artie is a ham! His unique history makes him perfectly suited to greet our visitors and inspire them to advocate for canid species just like his. Even though we would have preferred he grow up wild in the Arctic, he fills a valuable educational role at the EWC by teaching the public about the Arctic ecosystem and climate change.
Cooper joins the pack
After six months at the Endangered Wolf Center, Artie welcomed a new friend to his life. Cooper, a melanistic red fox (Vulpes vulpes), was likely born into the pet trade as well and also arrived at the EWC through Missouri Wildlife Rescue. While we don’t know as much about his background, he, too, immediately worked his way into everyone’s hearts! The duo quickly bonded, and our guests can’t help but smile as they watch the two wrestle and play tag for hours on end. Cooper brought out a side of Artie we had yet to see, a playful, excited confidence! We were grateful to find Artie a ‘brother’ to bond with, as foxes are naturally social animals.
They may look similar, but these boys are built differently
Seeing these two animals next to each other brings out a few stark differences between their species. Artie’s short legs, ears, and muzzle help prevent heat loss in temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit, while in contrast, Cooper’s features are much longer and more pointed.
In the winter, Artie and Cooper are opposite coloring, but in the summer, their coats shed and they start to look more alike.
Can you tell who’s who in these two photos?
Their coat colorations are fascinating as well. As a melanistic red fox, Cooper is not red at all. His silver coat comes from an excess of melanin. Meanwhile, the Arctic fox’s thick white winter coat blends right into the prevalent snow and ice in their native habitat. As the snow melts and spring returns, their coats shed out into a dark chestnut brown or gray which helps the foxes camouflage into the rocks. It’s always fun to note our not-white Arctic fox and not-red red fox!
Artie and Cooper have both excelled in their training. They are always full of energy when they are working with the keepers and love to show their learned behaviors in front of tours. During the warmer months, you can find Artie and Cooper enjoying some ice enrichment, including kiddy pools full of ice and fish popsicles to help them beat the heat. Artie in particular loves to dig around in the ice and put on a good show for guests!
See how Artie & Cooper spend Valentine’s Day
Though Artie and Cooper will never participate in a breeding program, they are essential to conservation education. They are part of a world-class education program teaching visitors the vital role that foxes have in an ecosystem and what action can be taken to ensure their wild presence. Artie’s and Cooper’s charisma and silly antics pull at guests’ heartstrings, stirring compassion for canid species around the globe. We are lucky to care for such a unique pair.
During Foxy Fun Encounters, visitors have the chance to go behind the scenes with our keepers as they train and care for our fox families. In this 30-minute, one-of-a-kind experience, guests will learn about our various fox species, their behaviors in the wild, the challenges they face, and our conservation efforts – all while the foxes play at their feet.
Your symbolic adoption of Artie’s and Cooper’s Fox Family helps the Endangered Wolf Center carry our mission forward and continue to educate guests about these incredible species. You’ll also receive updates about these “brothers” and more.