November Conservation Focus: The Arctic

Climate Change and The Arctic

The World Wildlife Fund has designated the Arctic as one of their ‘Priority Places’;a place that the WWF works to protect based on the wealth and variety of life they support, the destructive challenges they face, and our ability to positively impact them. Climate change is causing real problems in this area; temperatures in the Arctic are warming more than twice as fast as they are for the planet as a whole. Warmer temperatures lead to sea ice melting, which in turn causes coastal areas to become flooded and has already begun to impact Arctic wildlife.

As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Utica Zoo is committed to raising awareness of the threats the wildlife of the Arctic face on a daily basis. We are protectors, defenders, and friends of the Arctic and the wildlife living there.

Our Animals: Arctic Fox and Snowy Owl

As a top echelon animal care facility, we care for a wide array of animals from every corner of the globe. Our Arctic Fox and Snowy Owl are two animals that call the Arctic home and are now cared for by our Animal Care Staff.

Artic Fox

 

The Arctic Fox is one of the smaller fox species, weighing as little as 6 lbs. up to as much as 17 lbs. and measuring anywhere from 18″-27″ in length. One of their most notable traits is their large tails, measuring over a foot long, that they use for balance and also to keep warm when they curl up to sleep. Arctic Fox have a very unique adaptation in that they change colors of their coat from summer to winter. Summer coats are a blueish/brown gray and help them blend in with their rocky tundra terrain, and will change to a bright white color to help them blend in with the snow found in the Arctic.

Arctic Fox are found throughout the Arctic region; Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia, and Norway, and are also the only native land mammal to Iceland. The treeless terrain they inhabit is some of the most harsh terrain in the world, getting down to over -70 degree Fahrenheit. To survive, the Arctic Fox  maintains a high body fat level and will resort to an omnivorous diet, preying on Lemmings, Arctic Hare, Birds and their eggs, rodents, and leftover seal carcasses from Polar Bears, in addition to berries, seaweed, and any vegetables they may come across.

While the Arctic Fox is listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, humans have had an impact on wild populations through hunting and poaching for the fur trade. In addition to human predators, the Arctic Fox is also hunted by Wolves, Polar Bears, and the larger Red Fox. Arctic Fox are also considered a great method of maintaining small rodent populations in the Arctic, which limits the exposure of diseases to the human population.

 

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