Peru follows the fate of Run Run, the fox that was bought as a dog

Maribel Sotelo holds a painting by the artist Ness is Sans in honor of the Run Run fox, last Friday.Jacqueline Fowls

Maribel Sotelo never thought that her family would end up in the media. The story began last February. Her teenage son wanted a pet and bought a small dog in the center of Lima (Peru). She chose him when she saw him injured in the head with the intention of healing him, but after a few weeks her tail revealed that it was not the cub she had been told, but an Andean fox. For eight months the family tried unsuccessfully to get the wildlife authorities to take charge of the animal and return it to its habitat. The specialists and the forest police only appeared after the television cameras told the story of the Run Run fox, already a regular in the neighborhood.

The passage from freedom to captivity Lycalopex culpaeus that he played with the dogs in a poor neighborhood and received food from the neighbors has sensitized everyone who heard of his story. After their rescue, the number of reports of the discovery or abandonment of species before the Forest and Wildlife Service (Serfor) in the department of Lima and in other regions has grown by 50%.

Ronald, 16, is a senior in high school. He had saved money busking with his father during the pandemic. His mother had pulmonary fibrosis and they moved to a larger, more ventilated house in February. They settled in the Sol Naciente human settlement, in the district of Comas, located in North Lima. There the parents gave him permission to have a pet. “When I bought him little, he had head injuries and blood in his ears. He wanted to heal him. Days later, when he grew up, we saw his tail and made reports to Serfor. I contacted three times and my mother too, but they didn’t come”, says the student, who plays the trumpet and is preparing to enter the Conservatory of Music.

Maribel Sotelo went to more state entities to rescue the little fox. “I went to the Sinchi Roca zonal park (which has a mini zoo), but everyone said that due to the pandemic they couldn’t do anything,” recalls the 53-year-old woman. One day in May, between unusual thunder and lightning in Lima, the animal ran away from home frightened. For two months he continued to go home every day to eat, but then the neighbors started giving him food and he never came back. Since then, he lived on the stone hill and land of the Rising Sun. He walked with the dogs and slept on the roof of another house, further up the hill.

In the neighborhood they took a liking to him, but one day he killed several cuyes (guinea pigs) and ate one. “He was very cunning, he destroyed a neighbor’s corral. It would be his instinct,” Luz María Uman, a resident of the neighboring neighborhood Ampliación Sol Naciente, tells by phone. It was she who warned the television channels that a fox was free in Comas. “I know from the news that he will be in quarantine for 30 days. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for having warned because now he is in captivity, “adds Uman.

Run Run was captured one night after Serfor specialists threw a dart at him to put him to sleep. “They took him away quickly, they did not notify us. That night we cried with my son, but then they explained to us that he had to be like that because his body is very strong and the effect of the tranquilizer was going to wear off. Although the plan was to take him to the Huachipa Zoo (in East Lima) they went to the Parque de las Leyendas because he is less distant, ”says Sotelo. “I know that Runcito it’s okay. Every time I call, Serfor specialists inform me. We are waiting for the quarantine to end and the evaluation of his behavior to go see him. The neighbors also want to visit him,” says Ronald’s mother. The woman spent about 90 dollars to reimburse the losses of guinea pigs, a hen and a duck. “He doesn’t know how they have insulted me, but another part of the neighbors grew fond of him,” she says.

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According to Serfor, veterinarians at the Parque de las Leyendas, a zoo in Lima, have done blood and parasitological tests on Run Run. “Currently, he receives the necessary care to ensure his nutrition and well-being,” the entity specifies. The institution clarifies that although it received a report months ago of the presence of an Andean fox in Comas, when they contacted the person, he said it was from a neighbor. “The location and photographs of the specimen were requested, but the lady did not communicate again,” they say.

But the case might not end here. A lawyer has requested that the fox be transferred to a wildlife conservation center to try to return it to its habitat in the future, reports Trade. “By putting it in a zoo, they have condemned the little Run Run fox to be the object of our curiosity and morbidity, one more object of exhibitionism,” the lawsuit says. From the zoo they assured that he is still in his forties temporarily and that later he could be transferred.

According to the Specialized Prosecutor for Environmental Matters (FEMA), so far in 2021 it has received more complaints for the crime of abandonment and acts of cruelty against wild and domestic animals than in the previous four years. Until the first week of October, it registered 716 complaints. This year, in 240 operations against trafficking, he rescued 766 wild animals “taken from their natural habitat to be sold illegally,” reported the specialized prosecutor’s office.

Last week, the Ombudsman’s Office, FEMA and civil society organizations warned that the Justice Commission of Congress had modified the opinion of a bill that sought to include the illegal trafficking of species of wild flora and fauna in the law against organized crime. The new opinion ruled out the classification of organized crime. Doing so would provide the police, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Judiciary with tools for “greater efficiency in the investigation, prosecution and criminal punishment of crimes against natural resources,” warns a letter from the Ombudsman’s Office sent to Parliament.

The Ombudsman highlights that Peru is one of the countries with the highest concentrations of wild species on the planet and one of the 12 mega-diverse countries, so a legal framework is necessary to protect them. According to this entity, Serfor rescues about 4,000 live specimens every year. In public debate, specialists already call the budding norm the Run Run Law.

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Peru follows the fate of Run Run, the fox that was bought as a dog

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