CHICAGO — A family of foxes living downtown are the latest Chicago animals to go viral and staff at Lurie Garden couldn’t be more excited to care for them.
A few years ago, Lurie Garden, which features 350 different types of plants and opened inside Millennium Park in 2004, noticed an adult male fox around the area but it was a rare occurrence.
That changed in March when staff noticed the male fox more “out and about.” Soon after, his family, consisting of six kits and female fox, joined him.
“We are overjoyed and it’s really awesome to be able to share this space with them,” horticulturist Kathryn Deery said. “We feel lucky to have them here and it’s an indication we are doing something right in our horticulture practices.”
The garden has sectioned off an area where they think their den is and has been consulting with the Urban Wildlife Institute.
“We use barriers and metal gates to section off the area where they’ve been most active,” Deery said. “They can freely move.”
As more people become aware of their “little fox family,” the staff has some tips on what residents or tourists should do if they see them.
“Visitors can snap their fingers or light clapping to discourage them from approaching you,” Deery said. “Try to keep a respectful distance.”
While the female adult has been more skittish, the male is much more comfortable and staff do not want visitors to take advantage that he’s getting more used to humans.
Being downtown does make Lurie Garden a little nervous for the foxes.
“The male crossed the road last year and my coworker stopped cars in the middle of traffic to help him cross,” Deery said.
The garden believes the kits will stay with them through the summer and potentially move elsewhere. Staff has a suspicion they can get to the lakefront. It will give them a path to get to a less urban environment.
The foxes are the latest animals in Chicago to go viral.
Two weeks ago, Joey Santore and Al Scorch spotted a giant snapping turtle, later named “Chonkosaurus” hanging out in the Chicago River. Then of course there was “Chance the Snapper.”
The alligator captured the city’s heart in July 2019 while swimming around in the Humboldt Park lagoon. Frank Robb, an alligator expert from Florida, was brought in to rescue him.
In late 2019 into early 2020, coyotes were prevalent downtown. One of the very first viral animals in the city was “Ike the dog.” He was rescued in 2010 after hanging out on the Eisenhower.