The Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka has sent a female swift fox to Canada, something of an "Eve" to the "Adams" in Alberta, to help restore the population of the rare mammals north of the border.
The swift fox named Kimi boarded a United Airlines flight with animal keeper Tracy Rein on Tuesday to be left at the Cochrane Ecological Institute in Alberta, Canada, where swift foxes are considered an endangered species.
Steve Parker, a spokesman for the wolf center, said the trip went without incident. Kimi rode the flight to Canada in a carry-on crate under Rein's seat. Swift foxes are the smallest North American canid, coming in smaller than some house cats at 4 to 6 pounds and 12 inches tall.
The species was actually declared extinct in Canada in the 1930s and has been making something of a comeback because of programs such as the one Kimi is participating in.
According to a statement from the wolf center, "The hope for Kimi is that she'll produce offspring that can be released into the wilds of Canada."
She was one of three swift foxes born at the Endangered Wolf Center last Mother's Day weekend. The species also had been considered endangered in the United States at one point, but is no longer, also because of concerted recovery programs.
The wolf center reports that swift foxes now live in a narrow range that intersects Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
The Endangered Wolf Center now has three swift foxes left among the five species of canids in its care, and hopes to have a new litter of kits this spring. Endangered Mexican gray wolves, red wolves, maned wolves and African painted dogs are also at the center.
NOTE: The center offers public tours. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 636-938-5900.