A rare species of fox rescued on Lantau Island last year has found a new home in Singapore, prompting calls from local animal rights groups for the city to do more to combat the exotic pet trade.
The wild animal, believed to have come to Hong Kong as a pet, was found by hikers on the island in July. Since being found, it had been in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Ocean Park, a wildlife theme park.
It was flown to Singapore on March 13.
The news was announced in an online video released by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on Tuesday that showed the black-and-white furry animal feeding.
“Actually a number of organisations expressed interest in adopting this cute red fox. After considering factors such as the husbandry, fox care, experience [and] veterinary support, Wildlife Reserves Singapore is most suitable to be its new home,” the department said.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore is a self-funded, non-profit organisation that manages parks and zoos, including the Singapore Zoo.
The department said the fox had no problem settling into its new home, and the creature will be part of a campaign against illegal animal trading.
The department also thanked the SPCA and Ocean Park for caring for the red fox.
“The SPCA would like to take this opportunity to remind the public once again not to keep any wild animals as pets,” the animal rights group said in a statement.
The group also said the city government should strengthen laws to prevent similar cases from happening again.
In terms of handling similar cases in the future, an SPCA spokeswoman told the Post that the group will continue to rescue wild animals and hand them over to either Kadoorie Farm in Tai Po or the department depending on their species.
The red fox was 45cm-long (1½ feet) when it was found on Lantau Island and was unhurt.
Some suspected that the red fox was illegally imported to Hong Kong as a pet before it was released.
It was placed at Ocean Park for quarantine but the park said it lacked the manpower to care for it permanently.
Ocean Park said the animal gained 4kg (8.8 pounds) while it was in its care and was in good health before its departure.
“The park also sent the fox’s primary care taker to accompany and monitor its health and conditions, and to help settle the fox in its new environment,” an Ocean Park spokeswoman said.
She also warned against importing wild animals to Hong Kong, citing that such acts may “threaten the survival of native wildlife and spread diseases”.
For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2018.