I got the call at 3am, the foxes are in labour. I race back to work and Matthew and I watch from the office. Everything was set up for them, we have three dens each in there own enclosure. Foxes are solitary but some times they form little social group. Foxes are territorial, that’s why we have split them up into the mated pairs. A male and female fox usually pair for life. Hopefully we will get another littler next year. It’s always exciting when animals have babies even if they aren’t endangered. The population of foxes has stabled over the years but we are hoping that the numbers will rise. That’s why we bread three fox couples.
By 6am the first littler has been born. 4 adorable little pups, at the moment they are all blind and deaf but over the next month they will slowly venture out. The mother curls up with them and we see the dad come out in search for food. We have hidden some food for him to find. It is important that they still hunt even though they are in captivity.
By 7:30am all the pups had arrived but one. We didn’t want to go in to the den and disturb them but now we have to. We slowly crawled, careful not to make any sudden movements and scare them. They would go straight into attack mode if we did. Matthew and I crouch down next to the red fox mother, Ash we called her, and I slowly stroke her head.
“The cub is stuck we need to help her,” Matthew started to panic. If the pup doesn’t come out soon the mother could die as well. “I’m going to call the veterinarian you stay here with them.”
He crawled back out of the den and left me with the little foxes.
“It’s okay, I’ve got you, I’m not going anywhere,” Ash started to whimper. She turned her head to have a look at her babies. “It’s alright, it’s alright,” even I could tell she was scared. She started to whimper more and more clearly in distress. I check to see if you are making progress, there was a lot of blood more then with any of the other pups they were born today. Feeling settled in my stomach that she may not be able to deliver.
I just kept stroking her head, Matthew was calling the veterinarian and they would both be here soon hopefully soon enough.
She tried again to get the pup out and let out a big yelp. And with that the little pup came out and Ash jumped to her feet.
She started licking all of her babies clean. Motherhood isn’t just something for humans. In that moment I could see almost a look of pride on her face. The sick feeling in my stomach faded and a feeling of relief washed over me. I picked up the little troublemaker up and moved him closer to his mother.
“Well look at you,” I sat back watching them all. Matthew crawled back into the den with his phone.
“How is it all going in here?” He sat next to me watching the happy family.
“She just needed a little time and a bit of encouragement,” I smiled and couldn’t take my eyes off the adorable little pups. “Look you can already see the dark red fur coming through.” I point to a pup that Ash has finished cleaning.
“Well would you look at that, you two are matching,” he laughed as we crawled back out of the den. He is right, we could be twins with our dark red hair.
Back in the office I print off a sign letting the public know the foxes have had their pups.
I put the sign up in the viewing area of the enclosure.
“Fox enclosed closed. Foxes have just had pups, please watch via the cameras,” I turn around and see a man, boy more like it, probably about 20. “Hunny you are a fox and I would love to get you on camera.”
“Do you talk to everyone that way or an I just special?” I turn to look at him with unamused eyes.
“Oh no you’re special and I’m Marcus by the way friends with Frank,” he sticks his hand out for me to shake.
“Oh that explains it then,” I walk past him not even looking back. I hear him start to run after me.
“You know I was paying you a compliment the least you could do is say thank you,” he grabs my arm and spins me around.
“Do you think that was a compliment, calling me a fox and implying you’d like to have sex with me on camera,” I rip my arm help from his grasp. “No wonder you’re still single.” I leave him there looking stunned.
The rest of the day carries on as normal, clean enclosures, feed the animals, I check on the foxes every now and then. I am on my way back to Ellie’s enclosed when I see Frank and his friend Marcus
“Hey Bella!” Oh great here we go. I turn around to face the two idiots.
“What is it Frank, what could you possibly want?” I roll my eyes and cross my arms.
“I heard you rejected my boy here, you have some nerve thinking you are so high and might. You are just some lonely zoo keeper that can’t get a date.” He gets right up in my face, pushing me back a little.
“Frank we literally do the same job. And I have seen you hit on a group of girls and get rejected by them all. So don’t come up here running your mouth,” I’m starting to get livid. “Why don’t you just do us all a favour and quit.” I storm off in the other direction. Heading toward the break room I am ready to go back and punch I’m right in the face.
I’m just about at the break room when a brick wall of a man stops me, behind him are two more brick walls.
“Miss do you know where Matthew Johnstone is?” The first brick wall asked looking me up and down. As if I hadn’t had enough of the fucking patriarchy here today. I just take a deep breath.
“He only works half a day on Sunday,” their body language changes.
“Well in that case do you know where Frank Turner is?” He crosses his arms over his chest. It’s clear now that in front of me is the personification of the phrase ‘stick up the arse’.
“He is probably in the reptile enclosure with his friend Marcus. No doubt trying to hit on some poor girl,” they all look at each other with a knowing look. It’s like they can read each other’s minds, they look to be having a full conversation over here.
“What way?” Gosh would it kill him to say please.
“Over towards the main entrance there should be a giant statue of a lizard out the front,” he nodded at me and went to walk away, more like stomp. “Can I ask why you want to talk to Frank?”
“No you can not,” he tried to turn away again but I saw the back of their cuts.
“You’re Riders of War!” I half yelled. They all just looked at me. One with disdain, one just looked right through me, the other with something else, curiosity maybe. “I know Frank is an arsehole but you don’t need to kill him.”
“We aren’t going to kill him,” he looked at the other two men and nodded his head towards the main entrance. “Maybe just ruffle some feathers,” he smirked at me. Oh what a bad pun.
Two of the Riders spun around to find Frank, the third Rider stares at me, His eyes narrowed, I could feel him looking into my soul. I feel like all of my secrets are open to him and all my insecurities bubble to the surface. Everything floods me at once as I stare at this man, talk about tall dark and handsome.